Acer mounts SMB push in Australia

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Acer mounts SMB push in Australia

Acer's new managing director has said the vendor's next move in Australia will be a push into the small business market, amid reports of falls in PC shipments for the vendor in the Asia Pacific region.

The SMB push will include new channel programs through distribution partners, as well as a services policy, services for server customers and new appointments. Data centre services are also on the drawing board.

"You'll see a focus from us clearly on that SME/SMB space, through the distributors. We'll be driving several programs and campaigns to push into that vertical. It's not a space that we've traditionally attacked," said Acer's managing director for the Oceanic region, Darren Simmons.

In recent times, the vendor's distribution channel had become more consumer focussed, according to sales director Rod Bassi.

The new push into small business will be "heavily reliant" on channel partners, he said.

"I see us basically putting together bundled stacks with Microsoft 365," said Simmons.

The vendor has also signed an agreement with Melbourne-based Interactive Services who will supply server platform services to Acer customers in Australia.

"They also offer one other thing, which is they have seven to eight local data centres," Simmons said. "There is a fair bit of paranoia about sending data offshore."

Simmons also said Acer will provide data centre services.

"We're going to move down that path. We're not there yet, but part of that agreement will be to offer data centre services. It will be a localised service through an Australian company… it could be through varied service providers, but Interactive will definitely be one of them."

The plans come as Gartner reported significant declines in PC shipments for Acer in the Asia Pacific region. According to Gartner, Acer shipments in the region fell 21.2 percent from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014.

It made Acer the worst performer of the top five, according to Gartner. The firm also reported declines for Lenovo, Dell, HP and ASUS during the same period, though the declines were less than 10 percent for these vendors.

Simmons said lack of tablets was one factor that has hurt Acer in the past. "We didn't have a broad range of base of tablet base product, and it was the fastest growing product set," he said.

He pointed to Acer's wins with Android products, including a tender win for more than 5,000 tablets for the Queensland, NSW and Victorian Electoral Commissions, as evidence of new opportunities. Woolworths has also selected Acer for a roll out of Chromebooks, he said.

But while retail notebooks sales may have been affected as consumers buy tablets, this hasn't happened in the business market, Simmons said.

"They didn't rush out to buy a tablet because they don't know how to connect it to the network. They don't know how to secure it, they don't know how to lock it down. The organisational structure in corporate is running a Windows 7 platform. How do you put a Windows 8 tablet, or an Android tablet into that environment? [It's] very, very difficult," he argued.

"Everyone's talking about notebook decline. We don't see that in our business. We see notebook as a flattening category. When I say flattening, we see growth in certain segments, and we're chasing that growth."

Simmons said Acer was still seeing notebook growth in government and education. The exit of Sony and Samsung from the consumer notebook market also creates opportunities for Acer.

When it comes to desktop, he said "the majority of enterprise is still running desktop. And desktop, no matter what Gartner says, is not declining, it's just simply flat."

As Acer broadens its tablet range, Simmons said its market share should increase. "The next six to 12 months we'll have significant growth both in that tablet space, both in the Android space and Windows tablet space.

"We're still going through a substantial change in our business model. Right now I see the market overall commoditising and continuing to commoditise."

XP is also an opportunity with a number of large sites running XP in "large volumes" that will come to tender, he said.

Another potential opportunity will be when government funding for a laptops for schools program comes to an end this year. "Our expectation is there will be some sort of opportunity towards the end of the year which the channel will be heavily involved in," Simmons said.

"It's a clean sheet, new management." Bassi added. "We've had a good look at our business model."

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