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Acer's pinning its hopes on mobile, Chromebook: CEO

TAIPEI--Acer Inc. said Tuesday that it is maintaining its smartphone shipment target of 5 million units for 2014 and expects growth from tablets and Chromebook laptops, as part of its strategy to make a turnaround and strengthen its product portfolio amid weak PC sales.

“We hope we can achieve this target or even exceed it,” Acer's new CEO Jason Chen told reporters on the sidelines of the 2014 AcerGlobal Partner Conference.

The 2014 target will be more than triple Acer's estimated smartphone shipments of 1 million to 1.5 million units for 2013.

The company's desktop and notebook PCs, which make up the bulk of its overall shipments, will develop stably rather than suffering a slump, the executive said.

By contrast, Acer's smartphones, tablets and Chromebooks — laptops running on Google Inc.'s Web-centric Chrome operating system — are expected to grow rapidly, Chen said.

“We will seek opportunities based on where we are, including different hardware devices, software and services,” he said. “We are going to redefine Acer's business scope and find a clear path forward.”

“The smartphone, tablet and Chromebook markets remain promising, where Acer is looking for ways of expanding our footprint,” he added.

The Acer Global Partner Conference Tuesday was attended by over 100 senior executives from Acer's suppliers, including Compal Electronics Inc., Quanta Computer Inc., AU Optronics Corp. and Pegatron Corp., as well as from search engine Google and chipmaker Nvidia Corp.

The conference came four days after Acer reported an after-tax loss of NT$7.63 billion (US$252.6 million), or a loss of NT$2.8 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2013, including an unexpected NT$1.3 billion write-off of raw materials inventory.

The Taipei-based company said in a statement Jan. 17 that it “acknowledges missteps in the past on resource allocation, and the over expectation of Ultrabooks and notebooks with touch panels.”

Arthur Hsieh, chief electronics hardware analyst at UBS Securities, said that smartphone shipments worldwide are forecast to grow in 2014 at a slower pace of 25 percent year on-year as the high-end market is dealing with saturation of product offerings.

Tablet computers, meanwhile, will likely see a larger increase in shipments at 35 percent growth this year on anticipated launches of larger tablet models by Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. in the second half of the year, he said.

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