There’s a recent story in PC World about Acer finding a little success in selling Chromebooks, which accounted for 5-10 percent of Acer’s US shipments. The story then goes on to quote Acer President Jim Wong about its lack of success with Windows 8.
“Windows 8 itself is still not successful,” Wong said. “The whole market didn’t come back to growth after the Windows 8 launch, that’s a simple way to judge if it is successful or not.”
The problem with Acer making such recent comments about Windows 8 is that it has to be taken with a block of salt since they’ve been the most outspoken critic of Microsoft’s plans for the Microsoft Surface device. Furthermore, the statement that the whole market didn’t come back to growth after Windows 8 lays full blame in the wrong place. The spokesperson is essentially saying that it was depending on Windows 8 by itself to turn around the PC industry. It neglects their own shortfall in innovating on the hardware side. Microsoft is reportedly spending / has spent around $1.5 billion to market Windows 8. Since Surface is innovative and it’s got the marketing support, it’s no surprise that Microsoft Surface is essentially getting way more attention than Acer products.
These companies need to remember that spending $1.5 billion on marketing isn’t going to do anything if the innovation doesn’t back it up. I believe Surface is truly innovative but, it represents just one (or two with Surface Pro) device in a PC market that has probably hundreds of variants. And that’s where the problem is – there is still a lack of innovation from the PC OEMs. The PC World article also adds another valid point about folks probably waiting on innovation from the hardware side.
“Still, PC makers such as Acer need to shoulder some of the blame for weaker-than-expected sales. Windows 8 hybrids, which combine a tablet and laptop into a single device, were in short supply through the holiday season, and at this point it’s tempting to wait for next-generation devices, such as hybrids based on Intel’s Bay Trail and Haswell chips.”
In addition, from my experience, Acer doesn’t come across as a top brand that US consumers want. Whether it’s friends or colleagues, tech stories or online comments I read, that seems to be the prevailing perception of Acer. It needs to innovate to change this. People can argue whether Windows 8 sucks or not. But, it is innovative in that it changes the entire approach to using Windows. Now, it’s time for the hardware side to step up. Surface was a clear message to them to do so. Some OEMs didn’t like it, seeing it as potentially cannibalizing the sales of their own PCs and tablets. Some were publicly vocal about their displeasure, several times too. These OEMs need to understand that their lack of innovation on the hardware side to properly dress Windows 7 or Windows 8 was also cannibalizing Microsoft’s sales to competition from Google and Apple. They’re hurting each other. Microsoft did it by being so late to respond to Apple and Google. OEMs are now doing it by also being late to use Windows 8 to innovate their hardware. Both sides need to remember they depend on each other. In the end, if they get their act together, consumers will win by having another good alternative in mobile and desktop computing.
It’s a simple recipe. You innovate, promote it, sell good. Innovate again before they do, promote it, sell good. Repeat. I don’t pretend that there are not complexities in the ingredients, primarily in determining what the innovation is supposed to be. However, whether you’re Microsoft, Acer or another OEM, Google or Apple, it’s their main purpose to know, develop it and just do it. If not, consumers will help weed out those that don’t.