Acer's New CEO Pins Troubles on Initial Ultrabook, Touch Efforts
Acer is paying the price for jumping too aggressively in to the Ultrabook space and touch-enabled notebooks, according to new CEO Jason Chen.
According to reports, Chen, speaking in Taiwan during his first press conference as CEO, said the company must now "dig [itself] out of a hole" through the strength of its hardware business and by growing its software and cloud capabilities.
However, while he spoke in broad strokes about Acer's path forward—telling reporters he was still developing his strategy—Chen was more open about how the company got to where it's at, which includes several disappointing financial quarters and lost shares in key markets. The largest misstep was putting too much time and effort too early in Ultrabooks and touch-enabled systems designed to compete with Apple's iPad and tablets from other vendors that run Google's Android or Microsoft's Windows operating systems.
"We wanted to stimulate demand using new technology and we took the initiative more aggressively than anybody else, to the point where we got hurt," Chen said, according to Reuters. "Hopefully, we won't repeat the same mistake we made before."
Chen was named president and CEO in late December, after T.J. Wang stepped down as CEO in November and Jim Wong, the president who was named to succeed Wang, also resigned just weeks later. Co-founder Stan Shih had been running Acer in the interim, and will remain board chairman.
The resignations of Wang and Wong came after Acer announced a disappointing third quarter, with falling revenues and losses hitting $86.61 million. The company has introduced a restructuring plan that includes cutting 7 percent of the workforce in hopes of saving $100 million. Acer, which in 2010 was riding the momentum of its strong position in netbooks, has been hit hard by the decline in global PC sales that also has hurt Hewlett-Packard and Dell. It also has been unable make significant strides in smartphones and tablets.
In December, Acer executives said the company will remake itself into a PC vendor that also sells cloud software and services, a key part of its Build Your Own Cloud strategy.
"We need to find how to add value to hardware with mail, photo, video and other things we haven't even seen yet," Chen said, according to Bloomberg. "We'll start from our competitive advantage and go from there. … We aren't excluding any possibilities to get where we want to go," he said. "We want to get to Build Your Own Cloud."