January 28, 2013
Acer Closes A Window, Opens A Chromebook
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Acer isn't done with Microsoft Windows, but it is seeing a surge in the sale of its Chromebooks. The manufacturer said Chrome-based models accounted for five to ten percent of Acer's U.S. shipments since the platform's release in November, Acer President Jim Wong said in an interview with Bloomberg at the company's Taipei-based headquarters.Sales of the Chromebooks, while a relatively small portion of Acer's US sales, show promise for the platform. Growth in Chromebooks has come with little marketing behind it. "You saw that all the marketing and promotions were not as broad as Windows 8, so to reach this success is encouraging," Wong told Bloomberg. Chrome has no licensing fee, however Acer had to spend more money on marketing and promotions, which offset cost savings. That doesn't mean that Acer won't throw more money into the marketing of its Chrome-based notebooks and products.
Microsoft has experienced across-the-board sluggishness in getting its Windows 8 OS off the ground. Acer may be lacking confidence in Windows 8 systems. "Windows 8 itself is still not successful," said Wong, in the Bloomberg interview. "The whole market didn't come back to growth after the Windows 8 launch, that's a simple way to judge if it is successful or not."
Acer posted a 28 percent drop in fourth-quarter shipments, compared to a year earlier. Last week, Acer announced a $120 million write-off on the value of its Gateway, Packard Bell and eMachines brands. The company's Q4 2012 earnings resulted in losses attributed to the write-off.
To rebuild, Acer is looking at alternatives to Windows-based computers. The success of Chromebook in the US market will likely lead to marketing Chromebooks in other developed markets, according to the article.
Chrome is an open operating system developed by Google to run on smaller devices, including Chromebooks. Chromebooks are lightweight notebook laptops that rely on the cloud for running most programs. An Internet connection is required to run software, including word processing and spreadsheet programs.
The Chrombeook is seen as a viable option for developing countries, due to the low price points. In the US and other developed countries, Chromebooks have had some success among early adopters. That group includes professionals and heavy Internet users, with possible growth among educational institutions and corporations that might want to equip a student body or workforce with inexpensive machines.
The launch of Microsoft's Windows 8 is a contributing factor for Acer's lowered earnings, as well as other manufacturers in the industry. Microsoft's Windows division was up 11 percent in Q4 2012, though the release of Windows 8 in October is not attributed with the company's earnings.
"I heard absolutely nothing on how Windows 8 is doing," said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, in a Computerworld article. "I have to believe it's because it's not an impressive number. If it was, there would be horns being blown at the top of the buildings in Redmond."
Acer may feel the sting of low Windows 8 sales just a little bit more than most manufacturers when other holdings such as Gateway, Packard Bell and eMachines are factored in.