Gateway comeback unlikely

Gateway comeback unlikely

Several industry representatives have dismissed suggestions Acer's $710 million acquisition of Gateway will see the brand back on Australian shores after a six-year absence.

Gartner Asia-Pacific PC research director, Martin Gilliland, said the Acer buy was targeted at gaining US market share. "It's such a mature market that organic growth is difficult, so Acer's buying its way in," he said.

Announced last week, the deal will see Acer pay a 57 per cent premium for Gateway stock. It will also gain the Asian eMachines brand, which Gateway acquired in 2004. Acer would not supply a spokesperson to discuss the deal and has made it clear information on its local impact won't be available until early 2008.

While improbable, IDC analyst, Liam Gunson, said the eMachines brand was more likely to appear in the Australian channel before its Gateway parent saw the light of day again. Gateway exited Australia in August 2001. Gilliland concurred. "It's hard to see a genuine difference between the Acer and Gateway product ranges right now," Gilliland said. "eMachines is a bit of a different story as it's a good budget PC - almost whitebox - that may be low-end enough to interest Acer into bringing something out here in the future."

Managing director of Canberra-based integrator and Acer partner Datafl ex, Brian Evans, agreed the deal was focused on cracking the US market. "Acer has really struggled to find market share in the US in order to be a global player and command the kind of position they do in locations like Australia and Asia," he said. "It's decided the best way to do it is by buying Gateway."

Despite this, Cellnet Acer product manager, Richard Davies, said the deal could still have local benefits. "If anything, it will increase Acer's world market share and that's a good thing when you think about the greater economies of scale they'll have to play with when it comes to things like shipping," he said.

Evans also pointed out the acquisition could cut short Lenovo's plans to buy Packard Bell. While it seemed almost certain Lenovo would purchase Packard Bell, a 2006 agreement between Gateway and Packard Bell's largest shareholder, John Hui, gives it right of first refusal if he decides to sell Packard Bell's parent company, PB Holding. With Gateway in Acer's pocket, it can reject Lenovo and enter into its own talks.

Bluechip InfoTech managing director, Johnson Hsiung, was also unconvinced Gateway PCs would be back on Australian desks. "I asked Charles [Chung, Acer's oceanic region managing director] what it all meant and he said nothing should change," he said.

The maturity of the Australian market didn't leave much room for new PC entrants, Hsiung said.

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