Acer looks to televisions, e-books to counter slowdown of PC sales

By Tim Culpan

Acer, the world's third-largest maker of personal computers, intends to expand into televisions and electronic books within five years as the PC industry slows.

"The PC actually is a mature industry," founder Stan Shih, 64, said yesterday. "PC extending to TV, of course there's room."

The Taiwanese company will pit itself against Samsung Electronics and Kindle-maker Amazon, which lead the growing markets for TVs and digital readers. Acer, the world's fastest-growing PC maker, plans to expand beyond computers as the industry slows, with this year's sales forecast to drop for the first time since 2001.

"I would have a question mark" about their ability to be successful, said Vincent Chen, who rates Acer "buy" at Yuanta Securities in Taipei. "It's a different business model, TVs are another ballgame."

The Taipei-based company Shih founded in 1976 posted a 24 per cent increase in computer shipments during the second quarter, the highest among the world's top five sellers, as sales of low-cost notebooks advanced, researcher IDC said on July 15. The company trails Hewlett-Packard and Dell in computer shipments.

In February the company unveiled its first internet-capable handsets and said that it aimed to get 10 per centof its sales from phones by 2011 asit increased its non-PC revenue.

"They definitely have to get ready for the next five years as the PC business slows down," said Calvin Huang, an analyst at Daiwa Securities. "It's hard for them to differentiate the e-book, it's kind of a 'me too' product."

Shih said Acer was waiting until the market developed before it released an electronic book and was testing the sale of television models.

Global liquid-crystal-display television shipments would rise to 203 million units in 2013, from 105 million last year, researcher DisplaySearch said.

"In audio-video, the Taiwanese technology is still not good enough, compared to the PC," Shih said. "Taiwan can leverage their leading technology in digital and overcome this barrier."

Research firm iSuppli expects PC shipments to decline 4 per cent this year, the first drop since the 5.1 per cent contraction in 2001.

- BLOOMBERG

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