Review Central speaks to Emmanuel Fromont, the Corporate Vice President at Acer Inc. and the President of Acer EMEA, about the company’s focus areas for this year
How has the technology industry been for Acer overall?
The year 2017 was one of the best years in the past seven years. We grew at about 8 percent in revenue and made a good profit level. While we have acknowledged the fact that the PC market is declining, it is still a big part of our business.
So our strategy moving forward is pretty simple – within the PC segment, we need to look at other areas that are growing and have a potential for profit. And we need to start working on new business areas.
While the standard PC tower has kept declining over the years, we see that gaming as a market segment has been growing at a very fast pace. Very early on, we embraced PC gaming through our Predator brand. Around 2-3 years ago, we started relaunching notebooks and now across EMEA, we are number two in the gaming industry.
With so many mobile devices around, do people still need a PC today?
The notion that people won’t need a PC is wrong. People will need a PC, regardless of whether they own a mobile device or not. What has changed, however, is the lifecycle of the PC. Previously, people used to change a PC every 2 to 3 years. But today, they tend to keep the PC for a longer amount of time.
Why would you change a PC that is still working? Instead, change the smartphone and upgrade to a newer model. Chromebook is something we embraced many years ago, and we are currently number one in terms of the global market. 2-in-1s are also growing a lot, because many PC users are now shifting to thinner and lighter computing devices.
What sort of ambition does Acer have when it comes to VR?
VR is supposed to be a multi-billion dollar industry by 2020. So we have started embracing VR as well within the gaming product portfolios we have on the market. We have embraced the Microsoft HMD technology and so we launched the mixed reality headsets in select countries. We soon be rolling it out in other markets this year.
We have also partnered with StarVR to come out with StarVR headsets. This is a more professional device and we are selling it to theme parks. We have announced a partnership with IMAX to deploy it in IMAX theaters around the world. We are also working in Dubai with the local government for the world’s largest VR theme park. This park, called VR Park, will open this year at Dubai Mall.
Do you have a focus on IoT?
IOT is also another area of our focus. We see strong potential in digital displays being used in places such as airports, railway stations, bus stations, streets, and so on. Companies use lots of IoT devices to ensure these digital displays work 24×7. The IoT devices are also use to reboot the screens, change content, and so on, remotely.
These screens have lot of capabilities to gather data on what sort of content is being viewed, the demographics of the audience, and so on. We recently became a majority stakeholder in AOpen to expand our digital signage ambitions. We have recently also shifted to our new office in JAFZA. We want to let people know what we can reinvent things and we are pretty good at it.
Do you still focus on the business notebooks and PCs segment?
We still have very good commercial sales in terms of business notebooks and PCs. We grew at 40 percent last year in the commercial segment. However, we see we cannot be everything for everybody.
We are an indirect company and we only sell through our channel partners. We are very strong in the education sector and specifically in chromebooks. We believe VR will come into the classroom and hence the education sector is very important to us. We will, however, continue our push in other industry verticals with innovative products.