After several months of industry speculation, Acer has finally confirmed that it's planning to launch its first Acer-branded smartphone in the first quarter of 2009.
But given the razor-thin margins of mobile devices, Acer resellers aren't exactly bubbling with excitement over the news.
Acer closed its acquisition of Taiwan-based smartphone maker E-Ten in September, but company executives have been reluctant to discuss particulars of a forthcoming device that some in the industry have taken to calling the 'A-phone.'
Acer will boost staffing in its smartphone division to 500 employees and take over full control of smartphone development from the E-Ten group, according to a Friday report in the Taiwan-based technology news outlet Digitimes.
Acer is second to HP in worldwide notebook market share and expects its notebook shipments to grow 15 to 20 percent in 2009 and its overall sales to grow 25-30 percent for the year. In 2009, Acer also expects to account for about half of the global market for low-cost PCs known as netbooks.
Acer previously competed primarily on price, but recently unveiled a strategy in which it's attacking multiple market segments with the Gateway, eMachines and Packard Bell brands its gained through acquisitions. Within these brands, Acer is targeting specific types of consumers with multiple form factors and styles, an approach that it will likely follow with smartphones.
Brian Lisse, owner of Madison Computer Works, a Madison, Wis.-based solution provider and Acer partner, said Acer has been a solid partner in terms of support and overall product quality. "Their products don't have many breakdowns, and when they do happen, Acer takes care of it quickly," he said.
However, Acer also tends to offer special, deeply discounted SKUs to large retailers that are basically impossible for Acer resellers to compete with, and if Acer uses the same approach with smartphones, that could make their smartphones a non-starter for solution providers, Lisse noted.
Although Acer executives have previously indicated that Western Europe and Russia would be the first target markets for the company's smartphone, the representatives didn't offer details regarding specific regions, according to Digitimes.