Acer has revealed further details of its XC strategy that promises to bring low-cost, application-specific devices within the reach of a broader market.
One of the first of these products to make it onto the market has been delayed six months because Microsoft persuaded Stan Shih, Acer CEO, to use the Windows CE operating system. Acer originally said the educational XC, priced at $200 (#122), would ship with DOS as an operating system but the company opted to delay and use CE.
"There are more independent software vendors working in CE than in DOS, and that's why we decided to change," Shih said. "We need third parties to provide the software on board."
Shih promised that a range of XC devices would be available next year, largely based on standard Intel architecture running Microsoft operating systems. "Within six months to a year, there will be many examples of the XC introduced by Acer and other vendors," Shih said.
Acer is in discussion with software and hardware vendors over developing the XC platform, according to Shih. He said that, eventually, Acer would command 20% of the XC market which, he claimed will be worth 10 times the PC market.
Five XC platforms have been announced - the mobile X100, a compact X200, a set-top X300 and two desktops called the X500 and X700. Shih said that using industry standards such as Internet protocols and x86 architectures would be "riskless", but Acer is talking to several other hardware and software vendors to help it develop the platform, an Acer spokeswoman said. Acer is currently test-marketing the X300 set-top box in Denmark and Belgium.
Acer may struggle in marketing these products, according to Jack Gold, senior programme director with the Meta Group. "Acer needs volume sales and producing specialised low-cost devices may be a way of doing this.
The problem is that Acer is not a strong marketing organisation and it will depend on how it develops the channel.
"We have to remember that #122 machines have not been proven in the market.
The performance of Web TV has not been spectacular. What Acer will do to boost this market is not clear. Its success depends on whether it can bring other vendors to this strategy."
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