Acer, which is aiming for $20-billion in revenues this year, is in the process of re-inventing itself as a multi-brand vendor pitching its new product line-up at nine distinct customer types.
The company, which looked to be in the doldrums just a decade ago, is well versed in re-inventing itself, having positioned itself as a specialist notebook supplier in 2002 – and grown from $3-billion then to almost $20-billion today.
"We were smart enough to identify the notebook trend early on," says Emanuele Accola, vice-president: EMEA at Acer. "Now the notebook market has also matured and we are ready to play a different game."
Acer's new strategy recognises that different users have different requirements from their notebooks – and identify different brands with differing values.
"These valuse are not simply the product itself but the intangibles associated with a product, together making up the brand."
Acer recently bought Gateway and Packard Bell, two brands that will form part of its multi-brand strategy. It has also recently acquired E-PC, a smartphone manufacturer that will form the basis of its smartphone product line to be released later this year.
As the third-largest PC vendor in the world, and second in the EMEA market, Accola believes that Acer is big enough to be successful in its new strategy.
In addition, it is in a strong financial position and has an effective cost structure, which lend support to its new growth plans.
On the branding side, it will promote Acer and Gateway in the US market; Acer and Packard Bell in the European market, with Gateway is some territories; and Acer and Gateway in Asia.
"This will allow us to spatialise our brands and deliver products that are different enough to excite customers."
Acer already has a good reputation for service in all the markets it operates in, says Accola. "For example, we are the only PC manufacturer in South Africa that repairs our products directly and not through a third party. This is because the end user customer is an important asset to us."
In South Africa, there are 18 technical support agents and 23 repair engineers, according to Graham Braum, the recently-appointed country manager for Acer SA.
He says that Acer became the second-largest PC vendor in the local market in the fourth quarter of 2007, overtaking Mecer.
He adds that Acer has identified nine different types of users and has launched different products that specifically target these groups.
In the consumer market, it has the Aspire range of notebooks and desktops – including an exciting new gaming machine and an Atom-based sub-notebook; in the SME space, it has Extensa notebooks and desktops; while the corporate and government market will be offered TravelMare notebooks, Verton desktops and Altos servers.
Overlaying all the market segments is the luxury category, with the Ferrari notebook.
The South African operation will also aim for a better balance of revenue throughout the region, with territories outside of Gauteng receiving more attention.
Acer will also launch a new channel portal this year, where resellers can undertake training and certification online.
Other plans include a new onsite warrany and a new DOA (dead on arrival) policy.