Acer Preparing E-Reader, App Store, Google Chrome Netbook

Acer has a busy year ahead of it, as an executive has told Bloomberg that the PC maker plans to launch a mobile application store, its own e-reader and a netbook running Google's Chrome. Acer is reportedly looking to boost its income by 3 percent during the next two years.

Acer is looking to grab a portion of markets currently dominated by Apple, Sony and in its efforts to overtake Hewlett-Packard and become the world's largest PC maker by 2013, Bloomberg reported Jan. 25.

The means to these ends will include launching its own application store and an e-book reader, both by midyear. Additionally, in the third quarter, Acer plans to launch a netbook running Google's Chrome operating system.

Jim Wong, president of Acer's IT Products division, told Bloomberg he expects that 12 million of the 15 million netbooks Acer is expected to sell in 2010 will feature Chrome.

In the fourth quarter of 2009, Acer held the No. 2 PC market share position, shipping 11.4 million units for 13.4 percent market share. Worldwide for the year, however, Dell squeaked past Acer for the No. 2 spot, shipping 38.41 million units to Acer's 37.37 million units. Market leader HP shipped 59.9 million units worldwide during the year.

Wong additionally said that moving into new product areas will help Acer boost its net income by 3 percent within two years, and that if Acer can figure out how to sell applications, "then the margins can be very lucrative."

The Acer application store will reportedly offer software to support Google's Android operating system, which runs on Acer netbooks and smartphones, as well as Microsoft Windows and Windows Mobile operating systems. Later, support for Chrome will be added, and app prices will be free or "low cost."

The e-reader, scheduled to arrive by the end of June, will feature a 6-inch monochrome screen and initially be available in five European countries.

"Amazon, Barnes & Noble; they are U.S.-centric," Wong told Bloomberg. "In Western Europe and Asia-Pacific we have publishers to work with, and most of them are content owners."

At the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, a number of tech companies showed off new e-readers. Apple, with its tablet device expected to be introduced in late January, is also expected to grab a slice of e-reader pie.

According to research firm DisplaySearch, the e-reader market increased from approximately five models in 2007 to approximately 20 in 2009. The firm expects the e-paper display market for e-books and textbooks to increase from roughly 1 million units in 2008 to 77 million units in 2018.

Wong told Bloomberg that Acer is exploring content options with various magazines, newspapers and book publishers, though he refrained from offering specifics.