After suffering two consecutive annual losses, Taiwanese computer maker Acer Inc is now seeing strong sales in its notebook business thanks to Google's Chrome platform. These models accounted for between 5- and 10-percent of the company's U.S.-based shipments since launch in November. Windows 8, on the other hand, has thus far proved to be unsuccessful, the company 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," said President Jim Wong in an interview.
Like many other computer makers, Acer is looking to find alternative avenues of revenue as consumers flock to smartphones and tablets instead of desktops and laptops. Last week the company announced a NT$3.5 billion ($120 million) write-off on the value of its Gateway, Packard Bell and eMachines brands that pushed it into losses. On a global scale, shipments in the computer industry have dropped 6.4-percent in the fourth quarter despite the launch of Windows 8.
But Chrome is proving to be a highly competitive rival to Windows 8. Google's OS is completely license-free, allowing OEMs to sell machines at a lower cost. Meanwhile Microsoft is struggling to convince customers to switch over to the new Windows platform, but in the process has seemingly scared them with the new Modern UI interface. Had Microsoft put more emphasis on the underlying system instead of the blocky, new touch-friendly overlay, Acer might have been singing a different tune.
According to Wong, Chrome's value is actually more secure than Windows 8. Those who have already adopted Chrome OS are professionals and heavy internet users at educational institutions. Corporations are likely to show more of an interest as Google's OS becomes more popular. He also pointed to Chrome's popularity despite Google's lack of a heavy promotional push.
"You saw that all the marketing and promotions were not as broad as Windows 8, so to reach this success is encouraging," Wong said. He added that Acer had to spend more money on marketing and promotions, offsetting the cost savings of using a license-free OS.
Wong also dismissed plans for making Windows RT devices before the 2013 back-to-school season. He said that while the company is still evaluating the platform, Acer plans to focus on building up its smartphone business. Acer is looking to sell 1.5 million units in 2013, up from 500,000 units in 2012, to 5 million in 2014.