Acer Expects to Launch Touch-Enabled Windows 8 PCs in 4Q
06/04/2012| 12:52am US/Eastern
-- Taiwanese personal computer maker Acer Inc. expects to launch products using Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system in fourth quarter
-- Acer unveils Windows 8-based tablets, laptops and desktops that are all touch-screen-capable
-- Acer CEO J.T. Wang says Windows 8 products will initially target developed markets and won't try to compete on pricing
(Adds product launch plans in 1st-3rd paragraphs.)
By Lorraine Luk
TAIPEI--Taiwanese personal computer maker Acer Inc. (2353.TW) said Monday it expects to launch Windows 8-based consumer products in the fourth quarter this year, as the PC industry pins its hopes for growth on Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) next-generation operating system, which has been optimized for touch-screen devices.
The world's fourth-biggest PC maker by revenue unveiled new devices that run on a preview version of Windows 8 at a news conference Monday, ahead of Tuesday's official opening of the annual Computex computer industry trade show in Taipei. The devices--tablets, laptops and desktops--are all equipped with touch-capable displays.
Acer Chief Executive J.T. Wang said the company's Windows 8-based products will initially target developed markets and won't try to compete on pricing, as the focus will be on their improved functionality. The company didn't disclose exact launch dates or prices.
Acer's plans to release touch-enabled Windows 8 devices come as PC makers are counting on the new operating system to help them regain lost ground against Apple Inc. (AAPL). The traditional PC market has seen only modest growth in recent years, while Apple's iPhone and iPad have been setting the agenda for the fast-growing market for mobile Internet devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Mr. Wang said he expects Windows 8-based products to boost Acer's revenue in the fourth quarter.
In a bid to compete with Apple, several PC makers, including Acer, have in recent months released thin, lightweight laptop PCs, collectively known as ultrabooks, that use flash memory chips instead of hard drives so the devices can be started up more quickly.
While sales of ultrabooks have so far underperformed Acer's expectations, the company hopes Windows 8 will help them gain traction.
Mr. Wang said most of Acer's new Windows 8-based laptops will be ultrabooks.
Windows 8 will help bring ultrabooks closer to Apple's Macbook Air, and Acer's Windows 8-based devices look competitive, said Barclays Capital analyst Kirk Yang. Still, for Windows-based ultrabooks to become attractive, their prices have to come down, he added.
Mr. Wang said whether ultrabook prices can fall below US$700 this year will depend on the specifications and features.
Analysts said PC makers could use cheaper materials such as plastic instead of more expensive metal casings, while also using a combination of memory chips and a hard drive instead of costly memory chips to cover the entire storage capacity.
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