Taiwan makers showcase computers at Computex

Jun 03, 2013 by Annie Huang
An Acer employee displays a new tablet-laptop hybrid Aspire R7 at an international press conference on the eve of the opening of Computex, one of the world's largest IT exhibitions, in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, June 3, 2013. Aspire R7 features a hinge-attached pad that holds up the touchscreen and allows users to pull the screen closer or flip it over the keyboard, transforming it into a tablet. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

Taiwan's struggling PC makers are unveiling a new generation of ultra-thin laptops at the world's second-biggest computer show this week, even as they tap into the ever-expanding tablet market to help compensate for declining computer sales.

It won't be an easy transition for them, but the makers hope the traditional glitz of the five-day Computex exhibit opening Tuesday will give them a good start in hyper-competitive markets.

On Monday, . and AsusTek Computer Inc., Taiwan's two leading computer vendors, both unveiled a new generation of laptop-tablet hybrid known as the Ultrabook.

The new Ultrabook crop boasts faster and more energy than the first generation, which was first launched in late 2011 but has so far failed to make much of a dent in tablet sales. Those have surged on the back of mobile and affordable and entertainment displays.

The new Ultrabook crop runs on Intel-manufactured Haswell processors, which deliver images sharper than the architecture currently in use.

Software is still provided by Microsoft. But the Washington state company hopes its 7-month-old Windows 8 operating system will become more popular as consumers get more familiar with its interface. At Computex, a total of 65 Windows 8-based tablet and PC devices will be exhibited, Microsoft said.

At an Acer pre-Computex presentation Monday, group president Jim Wang said the computer vendor has "reinvented" itself over the past two years, engaging in "progressive design" that aims to not only satisfy users' needs but also allow them to enjoy the devices.

Acer Inc.'s Associated Vice President of Mobile Computing David Lee, left, describes features of the new Aspire S7 Ultrabook to Acer President Jim Wong at an international press conference on the eve of the opening of Computex, one of the world's largest IT exhibitions, in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, June 3, 2013. During the press conference, Acer unveiled a new generation of laptop-tablet hybrid known as the Ultrabook. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

Over the past several years Acer has suffered from declining or static sales.

Wang unveiled the sleek, 8-inch Windows-8 based Iconia W3 tablet that combines both home and office functions. He touted the device for "performing like a desktop" while allowing users to fold up the keyboard and carry the device in one hand.

Powered by Intel's Atom chip, the tablet will be marketed later in June. Acer did not disclose the price.

Acer is fast diversifying its tablet product line. The company has had initial success with two Android-based tablets, which sell for as little as $149 if the screen is 7 inches and $169 for the 7.9-inch variant.

An Acer employee displays a new tablet Iconia W3 at an international press conference on the eve of the opening of Computex , one of the world's largest IT exhibitions, in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, June 3, 2013. The 8-inch Windows-8 based Iconia W3 tablet combines both home and office functions. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

Enhanced models of Acer's flagship Aspire series of the tablet-laptop hybrid were also unveiled Monday. They include the widely praised Aspire R7, which features a hinge-attached pad that holds up the touchscreen and allows users to pull the screen closer or flip it over the keyboard, transforming it into a tablet.

The onslaught of Apple's iPad and a host of imitators have cut deeply into Acer's revenue, which has slipped from second to fourth place among PC vendors amid stalled sales.

The new models' success will be crucial to Acer and others in the industry.

In the first quarter of 2013, global tablet shipments surged 142 percent to 49 million units over the same period last year, according to International Data Corp. The market is dominated by Apple and vendors selling Google's Android devices. Latecomer Microsoft has less than a 4 percent share.

From left, Acer Inc. President Jim Wong, Chairman and CEO J.T. Wang, center, and Chief Marketing Officer Michael Birkin stand with their new products at an international press conference on the eve of the opening of Computex, one of the world's largest IT exhibitions, in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, June 3, 2013. During the press conference, Acer unveiled a new generation of laptop-tablet hybrids along with its new new tablet Iconia W3 and smartphone Liquid S1. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

Meanwhile, global desktop and laptop shipments slipped 12.7 percent year-on-year to 78 million units in the first quarter 2013, according to research firm Gartner Inc.

Analyst Vincent Chen of Taipei's Yuanta Securities says that Acer's recent innovations may help reverse the company's decline, but that much more work remains to be done before it is out of the woods.

In attempting its current restructuring, Acer faces a formidable Asian rival in China's Lenovo Group, which ranks a close second behind Hewlett-Packard Co. as the world's biggest PC maker.

Acer Inc. Associated Vice President of Mobile Computing David Lee, left, describes features of the new smartphone Liquid S1 to President Jim Wong at an international press conference on the eve of the opening of Computex, one of the world's largest IT exhibitions, in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, June 3, 2013. During the press conference, Acer unveiled a new generation of laptop-tablet hybrids along with the Liquid S1. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

"Lenovo has had a more diversified product portfolio, making low-end and high-end PCs as well as smartphones, and has a deeper pocket to support its immense marketing needs," Chen said.

AsusTek Computer Inc., the world's fifth-largest and Taiwan's second-largest PC vendor, has fared much better than Acer, and analysts attribute its relative success to the company's persistent efforts in product innovation.

Asus' PC shipments fell nearly 9 percent to 5.1 million units in the first quarter, admittedly a sharp decline, but far less than the industry's overall 12.7 percent fall.

Among the products it is showcasing at Computex is a new generation Ultrabook that features a sleek, glossy glass case, as well as a new model of its widely praised Transformer tablet.

The Transformer series feature a detachable keyboard with a two-sided display panel that can be used for work on one side and film transmission or other entertainment on the other.

Asus' Android-based tablets include the popular Nexus 7, which it jointly brands with Google. In the first quarter of 2013, IDC said its total tablet shipments came in at 2.7 million in the first quarter, ranking third behind Apple's 19.5 million and Samsung's 8.8 million.

Explore further: Giant tablets aimed at families

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Taiwan Computex to showcase laptop-tablet hybrids

Jun 01, 2012

(AP) — Taiwan's struggling computer makers will use next week's Computex show to promote a new generation of ultra-thin laptops that might be their last hope of turning back the seemingly unstoppable ...

Tablet sales surge as consumers shun PCs

May 02, 2013

Global sales of tablet computers surged by 142.4 percent in the first quarter of 2013 as more and more consumers chose small-screen devices over PCs, research figures showed.

Android fuels surge in global tablet sales

May 01, 2013

Global sales of tablet computers surged in the first quarter of 2013, led by Android-powered devices that outpaced gains by Apple's iPads, a research firm said Wednesday.

Lenovo overtakes HP as biggest PC maker

Oct 10, 2012

Worldwide shipments of PCs fell sharply in the third quarter, as some consumers spent their electronics dollars on smartphones and tablets and others held off for a new version of Windows.

Recommended for you

Giant tablets aimed at families

16 hours ago

Costing a little more than an iPad but standing more than twice as tall, a new pair of giant tablets wants families to share cozier group experiences with technology.

Myo armband and smartglasses set for deskless workplace

22 hours ago

Thalmic Labs, Canada-based makers of the Myo armband, has announced the integration of Myo with smartglasses, with the partnership help of a number of companies pairing the Myo with their products. The gesture-control ...

Sharp Aquos Crystal phone: Where's the bezel?

Aug 18, 2014

Just when you thought a fashionable gadget must be somewhat thin, Sharp is going to charm the smartphone fashion-conscious with a crazily thin phone, and it is arriving in the US quite soon. Gorgeous. Cool. ...

User comments : 0