The scramble to fill a near $100 million cavity on Harvey Norman's shelves where Compaq used to be has begun in earnest with the retailer confirming it was in "final discussions" with Acer.
Acer is something of a prodigal son for the retailer as it returns to the fray after a previous partnership between the two was severed nearly three years ago following a disagreement on strategies.
John Slack-Smith, general manager of computers at HN, said he doesn't see Acer covering the entire Compaq business that was on target to generate $97 million this financial year before the partnership was axed recently. He did say, however, that Acer was "a welcome addition to the line-up" and that its products would be in HN stores "inside a month".
"We will be starting small [with Acer]," Slack-Smith said. "Acer has a lot of models so we are trying to find the ones that will match our customer profiles. We will only stock one or two to start with but I feel there is enormous potential for the relationship to grow."
Slack-Smith also indicated that Harvey Norman was interested in matching some of Acer's notebook offerings up against highly successful Toshiba models.
Acer Computer Australia's managing director, Patrick Lin, said the company has been in discussions with Harvey Norman over the last couple of months, but that a supply arrangement was still "under negotiation".
While he insisted that nothing had been confirmed as yet, he did reveal that they had been having "very intensive negotiations" in recent days.
Responding to concerns that existing Acer resellers might have about a deal with Harvey Norman, he claimed that any model of the Aspire desktop range that went into the big retailer would be a different offering to that which it currently supplies to the Vox group.
According to Lin, there will be no conflicts with its mainstream reseller channel as the consumer models address a different market.
Lin also expressed some interest in bringing a consumer notebook model to the mass retail channel.