With the launch of its TravelMate 330 notebook PC last week, Acer is feeling reasonably confident of realising its long-term goal of wresting the number two notebook spot from Compaq in the coming year.
Currently occupying the number four spot in the notebook market and the number seven position for desktops, Acer is diversifying its product and market range, releasing a workstation in the near future and moving away from purely educational and government markets, according to Raymond Vardanega, Acer's marketing manager, product management.
Acer is already the number three manufacturer worldwide. "We listen to what customers want and provide support for those needs," Vardanega said.
Yet those needs are changing and Acer must respond. "For the first time ever in September this year the next incarnation of the Pentium III will be released at the same time on a notebook and PC," Vardanega claimed.
In response, Acer has to gain credibility in areas of expertise traditionally outside of its market and product scope.
For a company usually focused on the government and education sectors, the TravelMate 330 is designed for the corporate "road warrior", with Acer claiming the notebook will launch it into the uncharted territory of small and medium corporate businesses.
"Sixty six per cent of notebook users are corporate," explained Antonio Leone, product manager, portable PCs, of Acer's expansionary tactics. "This notebook is especially designed for them. It is light, easy to carry around, has a long battery life, has the convenience of the EasyLink Combo drive which combines a floppy disk and high speed CD-ROM drive, and has international connectivity features.
"This is the first time we have tried to tap into this segment and are looking at this product to take us into a new area. We also recently released the TravelMate 720 for the high-end corporate. These products complement each other," Leone added.
With the success of Acer's all-encompassing market strategy relying on SMEs' reaction to the TravelMate 330, Acer assures potential small and medium businesses of its commitment to this segment. "Customers will get the benefit of products that meet their specific needs," Vardanega explained. "Our Acer Integration Centre (AIC) prepares products to meet specific needs before they even go out the door. That makes it very simple to install and saves the customer time and money," Vardanega said.
Acer is relying on its resellers to pass the message along. "Our channel is very capable with the corporate and SME markets," Leone added.
Vardanega believes Acer's expertise in the Federal Government and education areas is easily transferable to SME and corporate business. "We focus on markets not products and we listen to our customers. For example, our education sales team is made up of ex-teachers or people who have spent time in that market. It's easier to match technology and people this way," Vardanega said.