PCR talks to VP and EMEA president Emmanuel Fromont

Interview: Acer on gaming, wearables and being the ‘last man standing’

Jade Burke asks corporate VP and EMEA president Emmanuel Fromont about the evolving market…

With a hand in all the major product categories already, Acer is a computing giant. But after gathering in the new World Trade Centre complex in New York, the company proved it has even more to offer.

With the impressive Big Apple skyline in the background, Acer took the opportunity to showcase its brand new line-up of back-to-school products, featuring tablets such as the Iconia Tab 10, the CB3-531 Chromebook and the iconic Aspire Switch, as well as the new Aspire R11 – the smallest edition to the firm’s notebook line.

Acer also unveiled a string of new devices for a strong category. Emmanuel Fromont, president EMEA at Acer, said: “We are really entering into gaming seriously. So far we were addressing what we always call the casual gamers, who were not really the hardcore gamers, but people who wanted a high-end machine.

“I think this time we are really going after those gamers, which is very exciting, because for us it’s a new segment and it’s something where we can only gain.”

The new line of products from Acer’s gaming Predator range consists of a desktop, a notebook, a curved Nvidia G-Sync monitor and a brand new gaming tablet. These devices will not be available until Q3 2015, however Acer is incredibly excited by its new offering to the market.

But what about the company’s pro gaming eSports team? Currently Team Acer is still making waves in the gaming arena, and Fromont is eager to deepen its impact in that growing area: “It’s a place where I feel my competitors have not seen enough of us, so sometimes it’s good to have places where you don’t just have to defend and you can go and attack.

“So I think you’ll see us very aggressive there and wanting to shake the category up a little bit.”

Desktop decline

IDC reported that Q1 2015 PC shipments in EMEA declined by 7.7 per cent, and Fromont agreed the decline is noticeable: “We know that the PC industry now is not a growth industry anymore. It is stable, or some will say it is in a slight decline, but it is no longer an industry that really has a lot of growth.

“But you can still innovate and you can still grow, and this is the exciting part. I think those in the industry are finding niches and being successful there.

“It’s very important for us is to bring some colour, some innovation, and some excitement into mass market products, because this is what we’ve been known for in this industry,” added Fromont.

After a strong fiscal Q1, Fromont also believes that Q2 and Q3 will be promising thanks to the Euro starting to stabilise, and the anticipated launch of Windows 10. “No matter what, Windows 10 is going to create excitement. For Microsoft it’s a very important launch and they’re also going to be behind it and push it, so I think that should create a second half of the year that is more exciting than the first half,” he said.

In the UK Acer’s share of the consumer PC market is more than 20 per cent, plus the firm also has a global reach spanning 160 countries.

After a disappointing financial year in 2013, reporting a Q3 loss of around $446 million, the company has bounced out of the red and back into the black. Plus, since Jason Chen joined as CEO in 2014, the company is thriving again.

“Jason Chen came, has bought a lot of excitement to the company and Chromebooks were a good success for us last year,” explained Fromont.

“The key is to find an industry that is a little bit stable and how we find those places that can drive growth. That’s why we’re launching gaming now, as it’s something we’re not strong in.”

With the addition of new devices such as the Aspire family, the company is also seeing positive feedback from end users. Thanks to the Switch’s click keyboard and 10-inch screen, Fromont believes it will continue to make headway with consumers. However, there is always room for more, as Fromont added: “If anything, my feeling is if you could reach the same price with an 11-inch or 13-inch device, you will also see that as successful. Because I think people use it mostly as a small notebook rather than a tablet.”

Wearable wonders

After debuting its very first Liquid Leap wearable back in 2014, during the event the company also showcased its new line-up of wearables, featuring the Liquid Leap Curve, Liquid Leap Active and Liquid Leap Fit. However, the company is slightly wary of the wearables market, as it is constantly evolving.

“We didn’t want to go too fast with wearables, because each product needs to be good and I think they keep on evolving,” said Fromont. 

Having delved into a wide variety of sectors already, from wearables and the Internet of Things, to tablets and PCs, it is hard for the PC vendor to pinpoint where it might be in the next few years: “As we say with PCs, I can grab a little bit more market share, and it’s an important engine for the company. But if you ask me what this market is going to be in the next 10 years, it has to be more than PCs, for sure.”

PCR’s top seven product picks 

Here’s our roundup of new products that were on display at Acer’s press event in New York…

New Iconia tablets

The Iconia One 8, priced at £139.99, comes packed with a range of functions, but what makes it stand out is the fine-point sensitivity layer built into its screen, which allows users to use a pencil to write, while the Iconia Tab 10 for education, priced at £199, comes equipped with NFC.

Predator gaming gear

Gaming gadgets were high on the agenda for Acer, including a new Predator tablet which features haptic feedback. Other products include the Predator Notebook, with programmable buttons, as well as a new gaming monitor and desktop.

Image source: Pocket-lint

Curved G-Sync monitor

One of the world’s first curved monitors to feature Nvidia’s G-sync technology; users can now view games on a 34-inch display with minimal screen tear with the XR341CKA, which will cost £999.99.

Aspire products

The family of Aspire products has been bolstered with the addition of the Aspire R11, the smallest convertible notebook within the line up, which costs £299.99. Other Aspire products include the Switch 10 E for £279.99, the Switch 11 V, which is priced at £599.99 and the 11-inch ES series for £179.99.

New Chromebook

Over 11 hours of battery life is available with the new Chromebook 15 CB3-531, while users can browse content across its 15-inch screen. The device is priced at £229.99.

Projector range

With the ability to project up to 100-inch images, the U5 320W can be placed as close as 23cm from the projection surface. It is priced at £799.99 and features two 10W speakers, comes with a WXGA resolution and has 3,000 lumens brightness. The P5515 costs £699.99 and is capable of projecting 1080p Full HD resolution images at up to 4,000 lumens brightness.

The Revo 

Acer has updated the Revo One mini PC with a software upgrade. The upgrade will support the company’s emerging cloud platform Acer Open C+C 3.0.

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