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Acer to downplay Windows in favor of Android, Chrome OS

Preparing for 'the day after tomorrow'

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Acer has told investors that it will reduce its emphasis on Windows PCs and laptops over the next few quarters in favor of devices based on operating systems from Microsoft's archrival Google.

The Wall Street Journal reports that that Taiwanese hardware maker plans to grow its "non-Windows business" rapidly, such that Android devices will probably make up 10 to 12 per cent of Acer's revenue by year's end.

In a conference call with investors on Thursday, Acer president Jim Wong said he also saw a growing market for Chromebooks, which he said made up nearly 3 per cent of the company's shipments during the quarter that ended in June.

The quarter was otherwise a disappointing one for Acer, which reported an operating loss of NT$613m ($20.5m/£13.2m), compared to an operating profit of NT$433m ($14.5m/£9.3m) for the year-ago period. According to Gartner, Acer's PC shipments were down 35.3 per cent for the quarter, a much sharper decline than that experienced by most of its competitors.

"For the PC industry, I haven't seen light at the end of the tunnel," Wong said. "First, we have to sustain our market share and protect our bottom line ... and by doing tablets and smartphones right, we can be prepared for the day after tomorrow."

By "tablets and smartphones," he mostly meant Android devices. Acer was first out of the gate with a small form-factor fondleslab running Windows 8, but that device's lackluster features and low build quality have been widely panned – not to mention that Windows tablets haven't been selling well in general.

Wong said that by 2014, sales of Android devices might contribute as much as 30 per cent of Acer's total revenue.

Acer has also been encouraged by strong sales of Chromebooks, which are now the fastest-growing segment of the PC market, according to NPD Group. Acer has laid claim to the low end of that segment, with its C7 Chromebook model retailing for just $199 in the US.

Wong did not disclose any specific details about forthcoming products. But Acer chairman JT Wang, who has previously blamed "uncertainty" surrounding Windows 8 for the company's recent sales woes, suggested during the same call that it was largely up to Microsoft to restore customers' – and Acer's – confidence in Windows.

"The Windows camp has to do something to reestablish or reinforce confidence among PC users," Wang said. "People are reluctant and are holding their purchasing decisions." ®

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