Adding to the impending glut of tablet-style devices crowding a market resurrected by Apple's iPad, computer maker Acer 's CEO, Gianfranco Lanci, told Dow Jones Newswire the company is planning to introduce a family of tablet computers in November, some of which will run Microsoft's Windows platform and some of which will run on Google's open-source Android mobile operating system. The tablets will sell for between $299 and $699 and will be unveiled during a press conference Nov. 23.
Acer Chairman J.T. Wang told the news service the company will open its online portal for tablet applications, and Wang remained confident of a strong increase of sales for non-tablet devices. "We won't imitate Google or Apple. We are in good position to penetrate into other customer electronics markets including smartphones and tablet PCs," Wang told Dow Jones.
Lanci was reported confirming the company was also opening a "major operations center" in China, just days after Apple announced the launch of its online store for the Chinese market; Apple's iPad is currently available to Chinese buyers. "The new major operation center will have manufacturing, logistics and sales operations," Lanci said.
Technology publication ComputerWorld quoted Lanci forecasting a tablet market nearing between 40 million and 50 million devices globally by 2011, downplaying the risk of a netbook market cannibalization and the price of PC components. "The idea that the tablet will cannibalize the netbook, we don't see it, except in the U.S.," he said, adding he thinks Acer could eventually claim up to 20 percent of the tablet market. "You're probably not going to see the price going down, you're likely to see the specs going up," he said, referring to the consumer PC market.
Acer's tablet would position the company in direct competition with Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, Panasonic and Microsoft, to name a few. Despite the heady (and growing) competition, the Apple iPad is expected to be a commanding presence through at least 2012, research firm iSuppli announced in an Aug. 25 report. In 2010, iSuppli expects the iPad to account for 74.1 percent of global tablet shipments. By 2011, as the competition begins seriously filling out, the company said it still expects Apple to command 70.4 percent of the market, and nearly two-thirds market share through 2012.
IT research firm Gartner recently highlighted the top 10 technologies and trends that will be strategic for most organizations in 2011; factors in the decision included a significant impact include a high potential for disruption to IT or the business, the need for a major dollar investment or the risk of being late to adopt. Gartner estimated that by the end of 2010, 1.2 billion people would carry handsets capable of rich, mobile commerce, including tablets, providing "an ideal environment" for the convergence of mobility and the Web.
In the second quarter, Acer slipped one spot to become the world's third largest PC maker after Hewlett-Packard and Dell, according to a September report from iSuppli. Acer experienced a 6.2 percent shipment decline in the second quarter, with its shipments falling to 10.2 million units, down from 10.9 million in the first quarter.