Acer Considers a Software Purchase to Create Tablet, Netbook Synergies

Acer is reportedly close to pulling the trigger on a software development purchase that would make its portfolio of tablets and netbooks more compatible.

Acer Chairman J.T. Wang reportedly is on the verge of deciding whether to buy a software developer that he hopes could increase the appeal of Acer products and boost profits, which last quarter fell to their lowest in more than six years.

Wang wouldn't offer the name of the developer or share financial details about the potential deal, according to a May 11 Bloomberg report, but explained that the goal is to create a more harmonious relationship between the company's netbooks, notebooks, smartphones and tablets.

"We understand we have to make a decision soon," Wang told Bloomberg. "We need some software that can create better value."

Acer, which was largely responsible for the netbook craze, is one of the later arrivals to the tablet market-which has taken a chunk out of netbook sales. The company's slow arrival to the space was part of what led to the March 31 resignation of former Acer President and CEO Gianfranco Lanci. The interview, Bloomberg added, was Wang's first since Lanci's departure.In reports, Lanci has accused Acer of resisting globalization, in part by not hiring engineers from outside of Taiwan. He told reporters this week that he had been on the verge of making changes that would have led to the company's "de-Taiwanization."Wang has denied that Acer is unwilling to hire non-Taiwanese engineers, and said the company plans to hire several hundred engineers this year.Lanci reportedly added that had Acer hired engineers from outside of Taiwan, it would have opened the company to a 50 percent boost in sales over five years, to $30 billion by 2015. Wang, in return, said Lanci's sales targets would have been "totally impossible" to achieve, according to Bloomberg.In announcing Lanci's resignation, Acer reported that Lanci "held different" views from many board members, and that they couldn't reach a consensus. "They placed different levels of importance on scale, growth, customer value creation, brand position enhancement, and on resource allocation and methods of implementation," Acer said in its statement.On March 22, Acer introduced the Iconia Tab A501, an Android-running, 10-inch 4G tablet that it will offer exclusively through AT&T.Earlier this year, Acer executives hustled to quash word that the company was phasing out its netbooks in favor of focusing on the more popular tablet segment."Acer recognizes that the computer market is changing," the company said in a Jan. 19 statement. "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."Acer began selling an Iconia Tab A500, a WiFi-only version of the AT&T tablet, through Best Buy stores in April. Wang said that sales of the device have already exceeded expectations, and that the company expects to see stronger sales of tablets, through its strong retail relationships, than of smartphones, through less-strong telecom channels."If I can get 15 percent of sales from touch phones and tablets in the fourth quarter," Wang said according to the Bloomberg report, "that would be a great success."