Acer is now #2 PC maker, surpassing Dell

JP Gownder

According to recent shipment data (which Forrester doesn't track), Acer has overtaken Dell to become the #2 PC company in the world behind HP.

This achievement wasn't unexpected -- in August, 2007, we predicted that Acer would become a formidable industry titan: "Acer's announcement that it will acquire Gateway is a clever plan, as Acer simultaneously improves its brand recognition, channel reach, and opportunity for gains in margin. Like IBM Deep Blue, Acer strategists calculated several moves ahead in the global PC chess game. If the execution is solid, this deal will create a powerful third-place PC competitor that will challenge HP and Dell by 2009, and it portends the rise of non-Japanese Asian PC superpowers."

Acer has proven shrewd in product strategy over the past few years. (Indeed, we declared that "even war strategist Sun-Tzu" couldn't have done better!). Acer's work with Ferarri was a masterstroke in branding (from an unexpected company, at the time). Acer's excellence in netbooks has ridden the wave of the market at the right time. More fundamentally, Acer's cost structure benefits from its proximity to Asian-based factories and original design manufacturers (ODMs). Dell, once the king of cost structure, isn't in as privileged a position.  And Acer's access to retail channel (including Gateway's) and experience in SKU management in retail is currently superior to Dell's. (Dell re-entered retail after a long hiatus).

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Major League Laptops Continue Dell's Age of Style Product Strategy

JP Gownder

In June, 2007, Forrester declared the beginning of the Age of Style. The Age of Style thesis posited that style and visual design would become critical vectors of competition in consumer electronics. We started our coverage of this trend with consumer PCs predicting that form factor innovations, increased aesthetic diversity, and consumer choice and personalization would become central tenets of competition for consumer PCs.

The baseline of comparison, of course was grim: For many years, consumers' home PCs and work PCs looked rather the same. Mostly bland and functional PCs reigned, aside from the products offered by a few trailblazers like Apple and Sony. But the growth of multi-PC households transformed PCs from "digital hearths" for the entire household into personal devices. Next, laptops moved the PC from the den out into the world -- making PCs devices that are public in nature.

Personal, public devices lend themselves to personalization and customization. Consumers wish to self-express through their choices: The color I like, a theme I enjoy, an association (with an organization or another brand), or even my personal beliefs -- as with the PRODUCT (RED) PC we wrote about when it was released. Self-actualization through the PC I carry with me is often, now, a goal for many consumers.

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