Acer, which pioneered the netbook market to send its overall market share shooting to the top position in EMEA, is set to repeat trick by creating a new market segment for mobile Internet devices.
Set for release in the first quarter of 2009, the new devices take the concept of portable connectivity – which has proved so popular in the netbook genre – to its logical conclusion, offering users a powerful, connected computing device that can be operated using one hand.
The product – as yet unnamed – is currently under development and was born from Acer's acquisition in March this year of smart phone manufacturer E10.
However, Krishna Murthy, deputy-MD of Acer Middle East, Turkey & Africa, stresses that the device is not a phone at all, but rather a new class of computing machine entirely.
"The mobile Internet device is a new market segment," he says. "I wouldn't call it a smart phone."
Based on the Windows operating system and featuring a touch screen monitor, the new devicewill allow users to get connected to the Internet, do e-mail, communicate, view content and interact – all in a single hand operation.
"It is a computing device which can also do voice communication – not a phone that happens to offer Internet. We believe the user will be viewing and interacting with content about 80% of the time, and using it as a phone just 20% of the time."
Acer believes the new device will let it once again pioneer a market segment and, as the netbook has done, allow it dramatically increase its market share.
"This is a big opportunity," says Murthy. "Today, there are 1,5-billion Internet users in the world – but there are 6-billion people, so there are at least another 1,5-billion more potential users out there.
"People are going to be looking for more sophisticated products to ensure they get their services through the Internet."
A key to delivering the new product to market will be relationships with the telecommunications companies (telcos) and these relationships are already being forged in the netbook space where as much as 30% of product is sold in a network bundle – in South Africa, Vodacom offers Acer Aspire netbooks.
"We have some good partnership arrangements with the telcos," says Murthy. "And this product will also go to market via those companies."