Acer is in a bit of trouble. The company saw two consecutive quarters of net losses. Sales in the third quarter were up slightly from earlier in the year but still trailed year-over-year numbers by 30%. Things aren’t looking good for the house of Acer/Gateway/Packard Bell.
The company’s acting CEO, J.T. Wang, is a man with a plan. In an attempt to realign the company, he is going to cut two-thirds of the company’s vast product line up from current levels. It’s a drastic move considering the sheer amount of pink slips the company will hand out. In the United States market alone, Acer currently sells 101 individual notebook, netbook and chromebook SKUs. The company’s desktop, peripheral, and accessory lines are just as deep. Acer’s acting CEO wants to trim the fat and make things a bit more simple (and cost-effective).
The restructering is expected to take three years with the cheap Acer products apparently be the first to go. Acer’s previous CEO, Gianfranco Lanci, aimed for the low hanging fruit. It was a smart move and put the Acer brands on the map. During his time, Acer climb the PC shipment ladder, ultimately replacing Dell as the number two PC maker behind HP. But with sales lagging, it’s time for a change. Enter the ultrabooks.
Wang sees Acer offering one of the MacBook Air clones for as low as $699 in 2012, spurring enough growth to stall Apple’s steady growth. Wang is less optimistic about Android, though, and while acknowledging it will be a major platform in 2012, he stated to Digitimes that it will “only achieve flat performance in the future PC industry.”
Acer currently sells the Aspire S3 ultrabook and I found it to be a capable and less costly alternative to the MacBook Air. But unlike with Apple’s offering, ultrabooks will drop in price as makers once again race to the bottom. Apple is likely to keep prices steady as it has over the company’s entire existence. Once ultrabooks drop in price and consumer become more aware of the ultrathin notebooks, the new platform will no doubt prove to be a key product for most Wintel PC makers.