Direct model won't kill channel: Acer president

Acer has issued a channel battle cry and announced ambitious plans to double its PC, notebook and LCD monitor sales during 2004. The PC vendor shared its goals with resellers at a recent Channel Forum in Sydney with company president, JT Wang, flying in from Taiwan to rally the troops.

“The key message in the PC market is that you need to have the right business model,” he said. “It is not a matter of technology or product lines.

“In the past few years, people have started to believe that the direct model is going to kill the channel. Leading companies believe it, whether they rely on the channel or not, but they are totally wrong.

“It is a business war game. Acer sees this as a great opportunity and is committed to successfully competing with the direct model in the long-term.”

The Channel Forum also saw Acer commit to developing a 100 per cent channel model as soon as feasibly possible.

One focus for the vendor this year, both nationally and globally, would be to take market share from the burgeoning whitebox market. Unbranded PCs account for about 60 per cent of the local market - one of the highest whitebox market shares in the world - and have proved increasingly popular because they offer flexible configurations at a low price point.

Acer Australia managing director, Charles Chung, said the launch of its AcerLink e-commerce system in September had provided resellers with the ability to order a wide variety of configurations and have them delivered within five days. More than 1400 resellers have already signed up for AcerLink but Chung expected that figure to reach 2500 within a year.

Acer would seem to have a mountain to climb if it is to double sales figures in three major categories from the large installed base it already has but, according to IDC analyst, Mike Sager, it is at least moving in the right direction.

“There’s a general agreement in the market that they are positioned well for growth if all things remain equal,” he said. “But a leading vendor would need to have some very concerted strategies to double sales because there isn’t that much room for manoeuvre.”

Chung also reiterated plans to make Acer the number one PC vendor in Australia by 2007. It had annual revenues of $300 million last year but he is targeting $1 billion within three years.

For more on this story, see this week's issue of ARN.