Acer

Chris Nuttall

The MacBook Air finally has some serious competition with the first of the new Ultrabook laptops being launched here at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.

After Toshiba unveiled what it claimed was the world’s thinnest and lightest 13.3in laptop on Thursday – the Portege Z830 - Acer followed up on Friday with the Aspire S3, which boasts 1.5 seconds start-up time from a sleep state that can last 50 days on its long-life battery. 

Acer boosted its cloud computing capabilities on Thursday by announcing that it plans to spend $320m to acquire iGware, a US cloud computing company whose technology powers Nintendo’s WiFi Connection. 

The new Chromebooks by Acer and Samsung may look like regular notebooks on the surface, but Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of Chrome, said that the parameters for every last detail, down to the individual components, were set by Google. 

Well, that didn’t take long. JT Wang, Acer chairman who is now running the world’s second biggest PC company after its board ousted Gianfranco Lanci, has taken his first step in transforming the company.

Less than a week after the boardroom shakeup, Acer has a new image – literally. The company on Monday unveiled a new logo, replacing the previous version that had been in use for the past decade. 

Gianfranco Lanci’s departure from Acer was as harsh as it was abrupt. The (now former) chief executive was effectively told to leave after two bad quarters. Prior to that, he delivered stellar growth for six years as president and three as chief executive.

There is already talk that Mr Lanci was being made a scapegoat. 

What Acer’s clear.fi does is, unfortunately for their marketing people, not easy to explain clearly. We took a shot at doing so when Acer first announced it in May, and on Friday it was JT Wang, Acer chairman’s turn at the world’s number two PC maker’s third quarter results conference.

Clear.fi, which automatically sets up a local area network between Acer devices, is intended to make it easy for users to access their photos and videos across different Acer products. It is such a big part of Acer’s new push to add software and services to their core hardware offerings that it will be installed on every single device Acer ships starting next year. 

Paul Taylor

All-in-one computers, which combine monitor and PC components in a single unit, are getting added appeal with multi-touch screens.

In this week’s Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section, we look at options from Acer, Apple and Sony. 

Well that didn’t take long.  Just a few days after Apple’s iPad hit international markets, both Asus and MSI, the Taiwanese PC brands best known for their netbooks, on Monday unveiled their respective versions of the tablet PC ahead of Computex

They weren’t the only ones, either.  Gianfranco Lanci, Acer chief executive, beat both his competitors to the mark by showing a glimpse of Acer’s tablet PC at a Beijing press conference last week.  So what to make of all these competing devices?  Several things stood out, after the jump: 

Acer clear.fi user interface

Speed has long been one of the secrets behind the success of Acer, the Taiwanese company that is now the world’s biggest seller of notebook PCs. 

Last April, they moved aggressively into the so-called ‘ultra thin’ notebook category by announcing plans for 30 models within the year.  At last year’s Computex trade fair, Acer became the first to unveil a prototype notebook running on Google’s Android operating system.

Now, within days after Google announced its grand plans for taking over our living rooms with Google TV, Acer said Thursday it plans to perform a similar feat using something it calls the ‘clear.fi’.  Apparently this year they couldn’t even wait for Computex, which opens next week, to make the announcement. 

Acer‘s attempt to muscle in on the fast-growing smartphones market can be described as a strategy of offering a cornucopia of choices to the consumer, if one was being charitable.

Unlike Apple, which laboured over perfecting one product – the iPhone – when it made its move into the nascent smartphone market, the world’s third-biggest PC maker yesterday launched four phone models in one go in Taiwan, and promised six more by the end of the year.