At their [email protected] event, Acer announced many new computer products for both the office and gaming and to learn more about Acer’s plans for the future, we were fortunate enough to have an interview with Andrew Hou, Acer’s Chief Operations Officer for Asia Pacific.
Andrew Hou gave us a lot of new insight into Acer’s future plans, how they are evolving in a post-covid-19 world, and most interestingly, the direction for the company to branch out from traditional electronics into more of a lifestyle brand.
Technology in the future
As a gaming outlet, we of course wanted to know more about the latest innovations in Acer’s gaming laptops. Andrew Hou gave us some insight on their SpatialLabs technology and his thoughts on VR.
What are the innovative technologies in Acer’s gaming laptops when it comes to the Asia-Pacific market?
Hou: If you follow the online trial [email protected], you will know that our gaming laptop will have SpatialLabs technology and a new gaming laptop that can give 3D visual impressions. In addition, you can run more than 50 games on SpatialLabs TrueGame.
The upcoming Predator Helios 300 SpatialLabs Edition laptop can support up to 50 games through this feature. We will see the response and then carry out the fix on all gaming notebooks, gaming desktops, and gaming laptops.
Seeing that Acer wants to switch to VR gaming, what does 3D gaming offer? Is VR even in the plans for the future?
Hou: We won’t be talking about VR for now. We are focusing on SpatialLabs, which is a 3D experience without a 3D mirror. Acer believes that VR requires more expertise, so that’s why we created the SpatialLabs product.
Vision in the market
He next told us about where he sees the IT market and the company plans to branch out beyond the traditional electronic market and focus more on being a lifestyle brand. This has been a trend with a lot of tech companies with Razer following suit with their recent announcement of a clothing line.
Will Acer expand into markets other than computers and IT products?
Hou: Yes, because the traditional IT market is quite competitive, we are thinking of turning Acer into a brand that focuses on lifestyle. We want to be involved in people’s lives. So we now have Acerpure, and Predator Shot. I think this is a good decision because if we were just an IT brand, there would be a lot of constraints. So we’re moving towards a different IT brand that focuses on lifestyle.
How does Acer plan to continue to develop the thin and light notebook market in Asia? Apart from that, what is the most challenging thing to be a promoter for this type of product?
Hou: Yes, thin and Light, and gaming is a very important segment of the market, and we have to make sure that we are still in the leading position. However, as you all know, the competition has also become more aggressive in its pricing. They are trying to take over our position.
There is also, Apple. Everybody knows the new Apple CPU together with their new Thin and Light notebooks, have also become very aggressive.
So I think that these are the toughest challenges for us. One is the price competition, the second one is competition from Apple.
What are Acer’s main products in 2022?
Hou: One of them is the SpatialLabs gaming laptop and the second is the Vero line of products. Not only did we launch a 15-inch version last year, but we also have a 14-inch version this year, and a wide range of Vero products, including accessories, bags, and clothing. The Vero lineup has a distinct series, so that will definitely be one of our flagship products for this year.
Situations during/after the pandemic
The world is finally beginning to settle down after the covid-19 pandemic but many companies have changed as a result of it. We asked Andrew Hou how Acer has been affected by these recent global events.
What are Acer’s focus and product strategy post-pandemic?
Hou: There are two. First of all, I just mentioned the Vero product, which will be our main product. Secondly, anti-microbial, so we want to offer a new segment for people to use after the pandemic.
How will Acer restart product marketing after the epidemic?
Hou: We are going to announce two big events, one is Acer Day and the other is the Predator League. For this year’s Acer Day, we will have an even bigger event than last year.
For the Predator League, the offline championship will be held in Japan. All countries will hold the local final before November. Therefore, I also call on all countries to make this event even bigger. Hopefully, that will help the marketing make the event bigger.
Short stock issue
Acer has also been suffering from stock shortages in the past few years. Andrew Hou spoke more about the company’s current situation.
The supply chain has been affected until now. How does Acer provide solutions in terms of supplying products to avoid supply problems?
Hou: The supply aspect has been a big problem since the onset of the epidemic in 2020. And this year, we thought things would get better, but since the major cities in China, especially Shanghai, are in a state of statutory confinement, it indirectly harms the whole ecosystem of laptop supplies. So until this year, there is still a shortage of parts.
We are thinking about this matter deeply and the product team has considered finding a second source, or different alternatives for the parts. This is what we tend to do for new product design.
How long do you think the chip shortage issue will last? Will this hurt Acer’s product offerings?
Hou: I think the chip shortage issue is much better now than last year. But now the problem is not with the chips. The chip supply is getting better in the second quarter and will further improve in the third quarter. But the problem now is that these chips are stuck in The ODM in China.
We think by Q4 there will be no chip shortage anymore
The E-sports aspect
Being a gaming laptop company, Acer is also heavily involved in the e-sports scene, particularly with their Predator League which previously had to be organized online due to the pandemic. Here’s what Mr. Andrew Hou had to say about the championship.
Will the Predator League return in a fully offline format or will it be held in a hybrid format (online and offline)?
Hou: This year’s Predator League is an offline championship. We will fly the players to Japan where they will compete in the championship. We’re still designing other details, which we’ll be releasing separately when we’re done.
Since the Predator League started in 2018, how has it affected Acer’s e-sports products?
Hou: Actually, the Predator League has improved our brand very well. We all know that the Acer brand was more of a cost-effective brand in the past. Users buy Acer products because of the good prices, that’s everyone’s response to Acer.
But ever since we launched the Predator series with the Predator League, it has become a luxury high-quality e-sports brand. That is why the Predator series is so well received in Vietnam and The Philippines. Because of the Predator League too, we are able to maintain a true community of gamers in every region and ensure the entire ecosystem knows about the Predator brand.
When will the Predator Shot e-sports energy drink enter the market in the majority of Asian countries?
Hou: Actually, the production of power drinks and computer products are two completely different things, since selling a beverage in a new country has many local barriers. We have launched Predator Shot in Thailand this year and will try it there first. If it succeeds in Thailand, it will make it easier to export to other Southeast Asian countries. So stay tuned, we do have plans, but we need to think about the local barriers first.
Helping Protect The Environment
Acer is also looking to become more environmentally aware in the face of climate change. We asked about how the company was working to create more eco-friendly products.
Do you think the Southeast Asian market is ready for eco-friendly computers?
Hou: Just like before, people in developed countries will be more willing to buy eco-friendly computers. However, after our analysis, we found that the people of Southeast Asia hold a great deal of importance in the protection of the natural environment.
If you want to talk about hundreds of people, we found that the amount of Southeast Asian people who take the protection of the environment and The Earth seriously is the same as in developed countries. About 5% of people on both sides take this matter seriously.
And what we need to do is to keep growing this 5%, which is the key. I think it is the same whether in developed countries or developing countries.
In developed countries, the computer price competition is stronger, and many people are very sensitive to product prices. So we don’t know whether they will buy an environmentally friendly computer. That’s why we’re stepping up efforts to promote eco-friendly computers in Southeast Asia and hope this will serve as a guiding line for Acer.
How does Acer measure its progress in terms of sustainability?
Hou: Wow, big question. Acer has already committed to complying with RE100 (commitment to 100% sustainable energy) by 2035.
But sustainability is actually more than that, such as with society governance, which we also need to follow. The Taiwanese Government also forces all the large companies, and enterprises listed in the Taiwan stock market to consider sustainability topics as well.
So, ended our exclusive interview with Andrew Hou as the Chief Operations Officer of Acer Asia Pacific. I hope everyone is relieved after hearing that the chip problem will be reduced by this year. At the same time, Acer will definitely add more sophisticated products in the future.