S. Rajendran sketches Acer’s stance for 2010 and upcoming products

Over thirty years since it was founded and still going strong, Acer has been recognized as a well-reputed player in the PC market for a long time. S. Rajendran (SR), CMO of Acer India waxed eloquent on the company’s eMachines, 3D CineReal technology, their niche in the market and more as TechShout (TS) jotted down the notes while firing away questions intermittently.

S Rajendran

TS: Can you elaborate on the operations of Acer in India?

SR: Acer’s products include mobile and desktop PCs, servers and storage, LCD monitors and projectors. Acer is a 100% indirect company worldwide, and we have continuously strived to bring the latest technology to its consumers at the best possible price points. With a partner network of over 2,500 channel partners and 275 retail partners in over 140 cities and towns and a service network of over 275 Acer Service Providers, Acer aims to reach out to its customers across many target groups in the most effective manner. We have adopted the channel route to reach out to the large set of consumers in C, D and E class cities.

We believe that they play a very mission-critical role in reaching our products to the end-users and Acer’s experience in our go-to-market strategy with channel partners has been extremely satisfying and fulfilling. Acer’s unique Channel Business Model has been instrumental in the company’s latest success. The model encourages first-class suppliers and channel partners to collaborate in a winning formula of supply-chain management and benefit from partners’ resources, allowing Acer to provide customers with fresh technologies, competitive pricing, and quality service.

We believe that we are strongly poised to gain market share because of our proposition of fresh technology, initiatives towards market strategies, deep strengths in retail and our continuous focus on making available the best value for money proposition in the market at all times. As a corporate, our philosophy is driven by our focus on breaking down the barriers that separate people from adopting technology and to bring in devices and related technologies that help reduce this gap.

TS: How was the year 2009 for Acer? Which was the most promising device?

SR: In India, we have been recording unprecedented growth month on month since April 2009 when we first saw signs of recovery. It has been the result of a lot of effort put in by Acer in India to grow its market share during the second half of 2008. During the slowdown, globally we went to the drawing board and drew out specific strategies to counter the period with a view to emerge stronger than our competition when the market recovered and that’s exactly what’s happened in this time.

For instance, during the slowdown period we launched our multibrand strategy to tap into new consumer segments, launched more than 30 models in the market place, enhanced our channel program to ensure that during a slowdown our channels had better earning potential so that they came through the tough times stronger and in good health. We also focused our energies on non affected segments like PSU, Education, Government projects among others. All the above has ensured that Acer has been consistent through the period of the slowdown and outperformed competition. Hence, today as we recover from the period Acer is poised on a fast track growth path globally and in India.

In the commercial space we have achieved unprecedented success across segments like Education, Government projects and BFSI where Acer is one of the largest PC brands. These were also segments, which continued to buy during the slowdown period where our competition suffered due to their reliance on the corporate market which had slumped. In contrast, Acer focused its energies on the segments where spending was still high and was partly recession proof. Our range of offerings on the mobile computing platform such as notebooks and netbooks, combined with our very aggressive marketing campaigns is the key reason behind our success.

TS: Does Acer plan to augment its consumer base in 2010?

SR: In a market like the PC market, Acer realized quickly that we need to connect to different types of target audiences that exist and hence a single brand cannot cover all segments to grow over time. That is one of the key reasons why Acer launched its ambitious multibrand strategy, which is now starting to take firm effect globally and in India. This will enable us to increase our consumer base exponentially, as we will be present with our offerings in all the market segments.

We believe that in India, the Gateway and eMachines brands will become significant players in the next 12-24 months. We plan to achieve this by making our products easy to use and affordable to the end consumer and remaining true to our corporate philosophy of ‘Breaking barriers between people and technology.’

TS: Can you brief us about the new 3D CineReal technology?

SR: The display of the 5738DG has been coated with a special 3D film that clings to the panel pixel by pixel, enabling the LCD technology to deliver a 3D visual feast. With the TriDef 3D Experience software, one can enjoy stunning 3D multimedia with no need for a special graphics card. A simple and intuitive interface provides access to the world of 3D multimedia such as videos, DVDs, photos and games.

The software includes a set of tools designed to offer a completely seamless 3D viewing experience like TriDef Media Player that plays back your favourite videos and pictures in 3D. It also supports on-the-go conversion of 2D videos and photos. 2D to 3D conversion supports a wide range of formats. TriDef Ignition is a tool that enables 2D to 3D conversion for games and applications supporting DirectX 9 and above.

TS: What kind of response are you expecting from users on Acer Core i3, i5-packed laptops?

SR: Delivering state-of-the-art performance in a stylish package, the new Acer Aspire AS 4740, AS5740 and AS7740 Series of notebook PCs are mobile powerhouses featuring the new Intel Core i3 and Core i5 processors, with widescreen HD displays, first-rate graphics and Acer’s acclaimed Gemstone Blue design. All this will enable a more powerful and intelligent performance required for a truly dynamic computing experience and will lead to high adoption rates among tech savvy consumers looking to invest in supreme cutting edge technology.

TS: Would Acer bring cost-friendly laptops to the forefront? Are there any Indian-centric products in the pipeline?

SR: eMachines from Acer addresses the value for money customer segment in the market place. Customer’s looking for practicality and good functionality are the target audience here. As a brand, eMachines focuses on catering to the core value consumer and making computing more accessible by offering great quality products at the best value. eMachines, Acer’s entry level brand targeted at the pure value consumer has been a run away hit over the past 3-4 months. Today we are selling over 4-5k units of this brand via our exclusive national distributor, Supertron, across the country.

Brand eMachines was introduced in India with an initial line up comprising of value level notebooks apart from the sleek, ultra value ‘Xtra’ small form factor nettop. In keeping with the market trends, the brand has now expanded its product portfolio to include netbooks too. Targeted at the core value customer, eMachines’ products are a win-win proposition to consumers as the products on offer incorporate cutting edge technology are at mainstream prices.

TS: With the ever-increasing popularity of netbooks, do you plan new innovations to your Aspire One lineup? Can we expect any eco-friendly offerings this year?

SR: Acer planned much ahead of its contemporaries, true to its philosophy of fresh technology first in the market almost always, and pioneered the netbook revolution in India. The introduction of Atom based netbooks by Acer opened up a whole new market of consumers to mobile computing in India last year. The Aspire One D250 based on the Android platform was one of the most exciting tech products of the year 2009. It was the first of its kind in India, a netbook with dual OS. On the netbook space the dual OS version is the 4th generation of netbooks being bought into the market by us.

Today, Acer is the only player who has had both the 10.1” and 11.6” netbooks in the country for a significant period of time when the market was still on 8.9” and 10.1” for a long time. We are also the only ones in the market who have come up with an 11.6” AMD based netbook with additional RAM and HDD on the Vista platform. This has come out on the Gateway brand. Acer is the global leader in this space and we are focussed on ensuring that as trend setters in this space we invest continuously into this category. One can look forward to a host of innovative products, bringing the best of technology and environment friendly products from Acer this year.

TS: How has the Acer Timeline series been accepted worldwide and particularly in India?

SR: The Timeline series of notebooks based on the Intel Ultra-Low Voltage (ULV) platform has a host of features that make it the best option for ‘all day computing.’ Timeline series has been well accepted by consumers and contributes to around 7-8% of the total sales. For computer users particularly interested in thin and light platforms, these products offer the best possible tradeoff between space, weight, performance, power and price.

TS: Can we expect devices catering to children’s needs from Acer in 2010?

SR: Acer has brought out many new products that are innovative and cater to various segments in the market place, including children.

TS: Can we expect any out-of-the-box innovations to be unveiled in 2010? How many devices can the Indian market expect in the first quarter?

SR: Acer’s USP over other brands has been a combination of many factors. Acer has always been a pioneer in the PC market and has always been the first to come out with products launched on the latest platforms like Centrino, Santa Rosa, Intel Atom, tablet PC and uSFF. The company will continue to bring out technological masterpieces which are built to make it easier for people to leverage technology for personal productivity gains.

TS: Does Acer have any plans of coming up with a new category of products this year?

SR: Several exciting products have been launched during the last quarter of 2009. A snapshot includes, the first dual OS netbook running Android OS, the world’s first touchscreen notebooks, 3D notebooks and projectors. Then there was the Win 7 SKU line up across platforms and all-in-one PCs across Acer and Gateway brands. We have begun the year 2010 with the launch of an entire line-up of products based on the Core i platform and will be introducing more products based on cutting edge technology throughout the year.