Acer Seeks Cloud Salvation With $320 Million iGware Buy


Struggling computer maker Acer is looking to fortify its cloud computing positioning with the acquisition of cloud firm iGware for a mammoth $320 million purse.

The somewhat directionless Taiwanese hardware maker said it will leverage iGware's proven and established cloud computing technologies to build out Acer Cloud, its own cloud infrastructure. Acer called the iGware buy a "mid- to long-term investment in cloud technology."

According to Acer, it will also pay another $75 million for performance-based earnout on top of the $320 million for iGware. Following the close of the deal, iGware will become the Acer Cloud Technology Company and subsidiaries in Taiwan and China will be set up.

The iGware purchase comes as Acer attempts to find its footing in a fluctuating market and branch out beyond its hardware roots. Still ranked as the No. 2 PC maker globally, Acer has had a tumultuous 2011, which saw the computer giant scale back its annual tablet forecast and reduce its quarterly notebook shipment forecast by millions of units. Acer also saw CEO Gianfranco Lanci resign in March after butting heads with the company's board over its tablet strategy.

With Lanci out, Acer restructured and tried to gain traction in the mobile device market, along with creating a new division known as the Touch Tablet group to focus on tablets and smartphones.

Now, Acer will dive head-first into the cloud with the acquisition of iGware.

Mountain View, Calif.-based iGware is a multi-faceted cloud provider, offering cloud technology for device ecosystems, virtual consoles and personal clouds. Acer said iGware brings a roster of customers to the table that leverage its cloud software and infrastructure tools and iGware offerings enable and support more than 100 million consumer devices including Nintendo Wii, iDS and 3DS, along with upcoming Wii U support.

"iGware offers expertise in cloud technology software design, with services already deployed on large scale and long-term basis," Acer chairman and CEO J.T. Wang said in a statement. "As a mid- to long-term investment objective, the valuable core technology and capabilities will help create uniqueness for the Acer brand, and support a vast number of our users based on open platform."

Wang said iGware will be integral in building out Acer Cloud, which will enable a content and management across various devices.

"The goal of Acer Cloud is to allow our users enjoy and manage all their ICT devices, contents and resources with ease, by integrating all Acer products including PCs, tablets and smart handheld devices within a safe and secure environment," Wang added.

Acer has said that cloud computing will fit squarely into its product and technology development strategy and over the next decade it expects its Acer Cloud to become a key element of differentiation for the company and its products. Acer said it will build Acer Cloud on open platforms and will begin hardware and software design integration. The company expects to have products that leverage Acer Cloud services available in 2012.

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