Despite what they might tell you, Acer Computer appears to have shifted its retailing strategy for the Aspire range of high-end home PCs.
The first change has come in the form of a scaling back of the product's presence at Harvey Norman. The second is a major push with Fairstar Computers.
HN's group computer controller, Tony Gattari, said that at this stage the mass merchant is readdressing its relationship with Acer. "Acer is basically re-evaluating their presence in mass market retail. It's a very competitive market - it's probably the most competitive I've ever seen.
"We have agreed that for the next couple of months, if we could both lay low with each other, then hopefully they will then be able to relaunch a product that can compete with the likes of Compaq, HP and Packard Bell."
Gattari said Harvey Norman is continuing to stock Acer products on a spot-buy basis. He believes that on a worldwide basis Acer is focusing more on the traditional dealer marketplace. "I certainly believe that Acer feels that it would be more successful in selling PCs into corporate, government and home business than in the home market at this present stage.
"They've actually got a very good product, the door is always open for Acer to come back into Harvey Norman, and certainly it is only a temporary thing until they work out their strategy."
However, Acer's marketing communications manager, Carmella Naval, describes the relationship with HN as business as usual, and says the vendor is not re-evaluating its mass-market strategy. "We are continuing to provide Acer Aspire to the mass market, to our retailers and mass merchandisers," said Naval. "So basically we are continuing to sell Aspires through our normal channels."
Mass marketing campaign
One of those channels is Fairstar Computer. General manager Wally Muhieddine said Acer has agreed to a heavy marketing campaign, which includes full page newspaper adds and TV commercials.
"There is a reassessment, and a change to the way they are doing it," said Muhieddine. "And they have a made a very, very large commitment to myself in the forms of support and marketing dollars."