Acer officials are denying that they plan to phase out the company's netbook lines as Acer begins to also focus on the tablet market. Additionally, the officials said in a statement that, for the moment, tablets "based on [Intel's] Sandy Bridge are not yet foreseen."
Citing Taiwan sales manager Lu Bing-hsian, Computer World reported Jan. 17 that tablets would eventually replace the lightweight mobile netbooks that Acer helped to make a PC market phenomenon.
The site quoted Lu as saying, "They are aimed at phasing out netbooks. That's the direction of the market."
Computer World additionally reported that Acer has 7- and 10-inch tablet models planned, both of which will run Google's Android operating system and Intel's new line of Sandy Bridge processors. The new processors, which were released earlier this year at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show and offer integrated CPU and graphics capabilities, would theoretically enable the tablets to outperform the slew of recently introduced tablets running Nvidia's Tegra 2 chips.
"Acer Inc. confirms that the company will not phase out netbooks in favor of tablets," Acer said in its Jan. 19 statement.
The company went on to explain that mobility has always been in Acer's DNA and will find a "new form of expression" in the range of tablets it plans to offer-a 7-inch Android tablet, a 10.1-inch Android tablet and a 10.1-inch Windows tablet. None of these will run the Sandy Bridge processors, Acer said.
"Acer recognizes that the computer market is changing," the statement continued. "This means the range of devices available to users is getting wider and tablets are just another piece of the mosaic. Therefore, they will find their space next to netbooks and notebooks."
During the fourth quarter of 2010, Acer was the second- or third-best-performing PC vendor, depending on whom you asked. Gartner reported Jan. 12 that Acer took the No. 2 spot during the quarter, shipping 11.9 million units and claiming 12.7 percent market share, behind Hewlett-Packard's 18.8 percent. In a preliminary estimate released the same day, IDC put Acer in third place, on shipments of 9.8 million units and 10.6 percent market share, and estimated Dell to be in second place, with shipments of 11.1 million units for 12.1 percent market share.
In the United States, Gartner ranked Acer third, behind HP and Dell, respectively, while IDC ranked it in fourth position, behind HP, Dell and Toshiba, respectively.
Both firms, however, found PC sales to be weak. Laptops continue to vie for consumer attention-and dollars-with growing numbers of media tablets. Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa wrote that while the tablets don't compete directly with PCs, they "undoubtedly intensified" the competition for consumer purchases.
Netbooks, or "mininotebooks," as Gartner calls them, "were hit the most by the success of media tablets," wrote Kitagawa.
IDC reiterated the finding, reporting that "after a strong run through 2009, [Acer] was affected by lackluster sales of Mini Notebook PCs, and slowing consumer demand across many markets."
Acer, introducing the three planned tablets in November 2010, said all will feature WiFi and 3G connectivity. The Android tablets were said to be scheduled for an April release, while the Windows 7 model will arrive in February.