Acer cranks up info app volume

Acer, one of the world's largest PC makers, expects to triple its production of Internet access appliances next year to around 3 million units.

"We want to be a leader in information appliances," said Simon Lin, president and chief executive officer of Acer, the core PC making parent company of Taiwan's Acer Group, in an interview with IDG here at the Comdex trade show.

"But this does not mean that we are lessening our focus on PCs," Lin was quick to add. "The PC is the super Internet device."

Acer this year will ship a total of around 1 million non-PC Net devices, Lin said. The company's highest-volume device currently in production is a set-top box designed to allow users access to the Net via television sets, he added.

"The current production run rate for the set-top box is around 60,000 units per month, most of which are shipped to Japan and some to the US," Lin said.

At the show here, Acer introduced several new Net appliances, ranging from the I-Station, an MSN-based Web Companion device, to set-top boxes and a screen phone that allows users one-button access to e-mail and the Web.

The company is also readying sev- eral wireless devices for accessing the Internet.

"The time is now right to introduce these kinds of devices, the applications are becoming mature and I believe many homes will have multiple devices for accessing the Internet," said Lin.

Although Acer has to date mainly pushed its set-top boxes in Asian markets, the company is now ready to launch an assault on a worldwide scale.

The move means that Acer is now aggressively targeting alliances and partnerships with companies that can market and deploy Net devices.