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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Marcoms magic

It's been a great week so far.

Monday I got to meet most of the EMEA marcoms managers. Some new faces and some I have already had the pleasure of meeting before.

So before I go any further, a big thank-you to the people from Benelux, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Spain, Portugal, UK, France, Italy, and South Africa who made the trip. It was also great to meet the ever-affable Philip again, who's in charge of the MEA region. How that man manages such a vast territory with its many cultural, language and logistic challenges is simply beyond me.

It was fascinating to see the peculiarities of the individual countries discussed within the broader context of a single regional division. The differences in cultures, markets, public opinions and user needs are what makes this job so fascinating.

It was also great to see just how much local news escapes the bigger picture. For example, I had no idea that Acer was the official sponsor of the
Women's World Cup golfing tournament in South Africa. Nor that a spin-off of this is Acer's involvement in the Acer Girls Golf Program - a development program for young aspiring players from disadvantaged backgrounds.

I think that beyond the obvious interest in corporate sponsorship, social causes of this nature are always worthy of note, no matter where they originate from and it is something I'd like to cover more in this blog.

Tuesday was action time. Online activities, media planning and, why not, even blog matters.

So rather than being a quiet period, it's all systems go here at Acer. And with the help of people like those I met on Monday, it's going to be yet another great year.

Monday, January 29, 2007

TheAcerGuy website update and Wordpress news

Just a quick update on The Acer Guy website.

The domain's registered (, but I decided to switch to Dreamhost and this will slow down the launch as I can't transfer the name until 60 days from registry.

The site's coming together. I'm doing quite a lot of SEO work on it to make sure it gets a read and also quite a lot of research into the actual content. There may also be videos and perhaps even a "How to... " page at some future date. The only thing that lets it down is the overall design so I might get it covered with some professionally-designed CSS at a later date. It's all practice anyway.

I also trying to find an RSS reader to embed into the home page, with independent Acer news, and that's proving tricky for someone with my level of knowledge... Any suggestions?

The move to Dreamhost also means that The Acer Guy blog will soon move over to Wordpress. I like Blogger but need the kind of functionality offered by Wordpress. As it stands, you can't import blogs from the New Blogger directly so I'm going to have to do that manually too so I don't lose anything.

All in all, we're a couple of months away from launch (he says, crossing his fingers)...

Acer shines in Manila...

Well, it's not just roses in EMEA. Looks like Acer is putting on quite a show in the Philippines too. Thanks Richard for the heads up ;-)

Interesting to see the way different journalists describe how Acer clawed its way up the rankings ... also like the quick summary of Acer's history.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Budget or Dependable?

There is an interesting article over on BusinessWeek called Acer's Hot New Designs. Lots of high-res pictures and quotes from senior management.

I particularly like the quote "The Taiwanese PC maker is ... releasing new designs to give its budget image a tune-up".

Talk about unsung heroes. Have these people heard about Empowering Technology, seen a list of the proprietary technology installed across the product range or even held a Ferrari 1000 in their hands and felt the exquisite solidity of the case? There is nothing budget about any of this.

My Acer notebooks have seen me through serious battles and have never failed (even when I accidentally blew one up I managed to recover the hard disk contents). Budget? The correct word is Dependable.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

No AcerGuy till Friday

Tomorrow morning (today at this point in time) I'll be getting on a plane to spend three days in storm-battered UK.

I'm going to do what everyone connected 24/7 should every once and a while. Switch off.

That's right, no PC for three days. It's like going without cigarettes when you're on 2 packs a day, or without seeing your children... the withdrawal symptoms are already showing as I'm actually writing about it.

Still, it'll give me time to think about the future of TheAcerGuy, the site and, more urgently, the blogging platform (I want to change over to WordPress and give it a real domain).

I like WordPress as it'll also give me the chance to add categories as there is as much theory (PR involvement in corporate blogging) as there is business practice (4Q results show Acer catching up on Lenovo). And I thought it was just going to be about notebooks...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Acer accused of being an 800 pound gorilla - and it's great!

As I wrote a few days ago, Acer put in an amazing performance last year, conceding third place to Lenovo but making up so much ground overall, it's getting noticed (and not just for its Ferraris!).

So much so, that in an article over on the Inquirer, HP and Dell have been advised to look in their rear-view mirrors for Acer, an 800-pound gorilla that increased sales by 37.1 percent for the whole of 2006, according to Gartner numbers for Q4.

The same article also suggests that Acer is looking to tie up with US retail giant Best Buy to sell notebooks from February which could generate a 100 percent rise in US sales.

I wonder where we'll be this time next year?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Spicing up the Blu-ray/HD-DVD debate

They say that you can tell the state of the economy by watching the performance of paper producers. The better the economic climate the greater their profits as more companies ride the economic wave by spending on advertising...

One of the more curious twists to this year's CES was the indicator used to settle the score over the modern-day VHS Vs. Betamax battle, Blu-ray or HD-DVD.

Across the way from the CES in Las Vegas this year, the adult entertainment industry held its annual bash, and the film producers had
no doubts over their chosen format.

Not your usual benchmark by any means but one that could well send shivers (more like secretive winks) throughout the entire IT business for years to come.

And, unsurprisingly, it all boils down to cost.

"Blu-ray has superior quality, yes, but HD DVD is easier to produce, cheaper to produce and there are more HD DVD players in homes than there are Blu-ray players, for example in the Xbox 360," said one representative.

Others complained that Blu-ray discs cannot be multiplied on low cost machines and, as a result, the costs of large scale Blu-Ray disks manufacturing cancels any form of profit. Other small brands also stated: "Only bigger studios can afford Blu-ray, and even then it's not economical.”

So, HD-DVD just got the thumbs up from one of the largest-growing digital entertainment industries. Still not convinced? According to
PricewaterhouseCoopers', the Global Entertainment and Media industry is set to generate $1.8 TRILLION by 2010.

I know I’d settle on the easiest format, not that I’m at all interested of course.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Breathing down their necks...

Well it looks like I got my answer.

According to IDC, the top five PC vendors by worldwide market share in the fourth quarter 2006 were HP (18.1 percent), Dell (14.7 percent), Lenovo Group (7.3 percent), Acer (7.1 percent), and Toshiba (3.7 percent).

Individually, again according to IDC:

HP built on its third quarter momentum, boosting year-on-year growth to nearly 24% (the fastest for HP since 2000) and taking a clear lead in worldwide shipment volume for the quarter. Growth in the United States rebounded to near 16% from a dip to single digits in the third quarter, while international growth surged above 28% with a strong showing in EMEA.

Dell was unable to recover from a slow third quarter and stumbled through the end of the year. Shipments to the U.S. market, which continue to represent over 50% of Dell volume, were down nearly 17% year on year following a single-digit decline in Q3. In addition, international growth, which was reasonably stable in the third quarter, fell to just 1.5% in 4Q06 with notably slower growth in all regions. Dell's focus on profitability over share is coming right at a time of aggressive competition from companies such as HP, Acer, and Apple, and is compounded by a slow commercial market. As a result, Dell is in the unusual circumstance of seeing volume decline sequentially from the third quarter in both the United States and worldwide.

Lenovo continues to benefit from its leadership position in Asia/Pacific, while struggling for traction in other regions. The company continues to gain share in APeJ, which accounts for nearly 60% of volume, while shipments declined in the United States and Japan, and modest volume gains in other regions were not enough to preserve share.

Acer had another solid quarter with strong gains in all regions. EMEA represents roughly 70% of Acer's worldwide shipments, and grew by nearly 37% in the fourth quarter, but expansion in the United States and Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) also contributed to the company's gains.

Toshiba's focus on portable PCs continues to give the company an edge in overall growth. Worldwide shipments were up more than 17% in the fourth quarter, with an increase of more than 14% in the United States. Although growth was slower than last quarter, and closer to market rates for portable PC shipments, Toshiba continues to gain share in total shipments and benefits from the higher margins for portable PCs.

Overall, we're going to have to concede defeat to Lenovo, but if you look closely, we're catching up. Fast.

Windows Experience Index - a reference we could all use??

I recently saw a post by Mauricio Freitas regarding the Windows Experience Index for his Ferrari 5000 (4.9).

I followed that Wikipedia link to find out more on the WEI and from there found another, very interesting site where users can upload their own scores or singular scores per component (the Windows System Assessment Tool (WinSAT) analyses all hardware components and your overall system score is determined by the lowest individual result).

This got me thinking:

Wouldn't it be great if hardware manufacturers used this as a performance benchmark for their products? At least we'd all have a common frame of reference...

Acer Vs. Lenovo

There's an interesting article by Bruce Einhorn over on Business Week about the battle between Acer and Lenovo to claim the title of "the leading computer company out of Greater China".

It's interesting to see the many parallels between these two IT rivals, and Bruce does a great job of getting straight to the point.

Just like in Formula 1, often the most interesting battles aren't for the lead (I know who's side I'm on).

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Swicki results

While TheAcerGuy isn't exactly ranking well on whatever search engine you use, it does attract some visitors.

And those visitors seem to be using the Swicki that's been sitting there on the right since November to find out more information on Acer.

I thought I'd post the results so far as they provide a curious insight into what's hot (important) and what's not.

Acer support - 36
Acer laptop - 29
Asus Lamborghini - 25
Acer notebook - 23
Acer Travelmate 270 - 18
Gianfranco Lanci - 15
Acer Ferrari - 14
Acer USA - 14
Empowering Technology... - 14
HP PDA - 14
Acer review - 13
Fingerprint recognition... - 13
Acer PDA - 12
Acer computer - 11
Acer deals - 11
Acer mobile solutions... - 9
acer n music matc - 9
Trusted Platform Module... - 9
Acer PC - 8
Acer notebook cpu upgrade... - 3
Acer USA warranty - 2
internet explorer 7 - 1
orbicam spec - 1
travelmate 8200 - 1
Acer - 0
acer c500 pocket pc trave...- 0

As expected, support is top of the agenda. Given the heat some other manufacturers have been taking over their customer support, this is not at all surprising.

Interesting to see the Asus Lamborghini up there above the Ferraris (who'd have thought?) along with HP's PDAs that also feature for some reason which means that Acer's are obviously well worth a look.

One curious one (for me at any rate) is the interest in Internet Explorer 7. I have a hunch this has to do with the ActiveX issue but who knows what you guys are looking for??

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Acer releases LunchApp ActiveX vulnerability patch

Well 2007 got off to a bit of a bumpy start, didn’t it?

First the Ferrari storm and now a security flaw. I can understand how the Ferrari thing didn’t go down too well but the response to this security flaw was astounding. I mean, check out this post. Talk about tough love…

Acer has just released a Press Release about the issue and, more importantly, a patch.

After a bit of research, it turns out that this application is part of the bundled software suite that comes with every Acer computer. Ironically, it seems it was originally designed as a technology facilitator. Ahh the best-laid plans…

I’m copying a description of the application I found on the discussion forums over at Broadband

lmanager.exe is a process associated with Acer Launch Manager from Dritek System Inc.."LaunchBoard software from Darwin turns your keyboard into a remote control for the Internet and your computer! With LaunchBoard 2.0, you can customize up to 38 keys on your PC keyboard to instantly launch Web Sites, start applications, perform custom macros, handle Windows shortcuts, store passwords, and perform loads of other customizable functions" U LaunchApp Alaunch.exe Acer Launch tool utility on laptops U LaunchAp LaunchAp.exe Part of Acer Launch Manager - programmable keys on such laptops as the TravelMate 610 Author: Dritek System Inc.Part Of: Acer Launch ManagerLManager.exe file informationThe process Acer Launch Manager Keyboard Application belongs to the software Acer Launch Manager by Dritek System Inc (

So what have we got? A simple bundled program designed to give users even greater control over their hardware that in time (9 years is a long time in my book), became something vulnerable to malicious attacks.

Doesn’t the same description tell the story of a LOT of software programs out there? That’s why most of us install upgrades and security patches and some even switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox, isn’t it?

So, back to the problem. Judging by the contents of the press release, Acer introduced this patch into its OEM manufacturing process on 4th December. What that means is that all computers built by Acer’s suppliers after that date will not be affected by the flaw.

Then, following standard procedures, it was passed on to the global service team and finally to the public.

My advice? Download it and feel better about your PC.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Bill Gates on the future of Microsoft

Fascinating "informal" video of with Bill Gates speaking at CES on the future of Microsoft, online applications, gaming and the IT world at large.

I've never seen him so relaxed!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Debate on Corporate Blogs

I always wanted this blog to stay away from corporate issues but every now and then something blips on the radar that can’t be ignored. Bear with me for a minute.

If anyone has been watching, there have been some healthy (for want of a better word) exchanges of opinions going on between several key IT players over the past few weeks.

First HP used a favourable article on
ZDNet to have a go at IBM and Dell on Eric Klintz’s Marketing Excellence blog. Lionel from Dell responds on the same thread but the argument dies.

Chris from MWW Group (PRs to among others) tracks back to this on their
Open the Dialogue” blog and uses it as a healthy example of what blogging is all about – real people debating real issues head to head, without PR interference.

The thing is none of this “wanton sincerity” is true at all.

First of all, simply by debating on HP’s MARKETING EXCELLENCE blog, means that all sincerity flies straight out the window (remember,
All Marketers are Liars, says Seth Godin).

Then I replied to Chris with a post just before Christmas about how difficult (artificial) it is to compare independent professional blogs to corporate ones. My post wasn’t published. True I’m a little guy, but the “Openness” of MWW Groups “Dialogue” is now in doubt.

Want to see a really open debate? One with real people arguing about real issues? Then read the vehemence over at
Scoble’s blog following his dig at Apple after his son’s Mac Book Pro had problems, complaining that despite Apple’s poor service and Dell’s openness, the former gets good press while the latter suffers from the opposite.

The comments are what Scoble himself in his book
Naked Conversations defined as “Tough Love”.

On corporate blogs it’s a different story and Klintz’s refusal to take the argument with Lionel any further is a clear demonstration of this.

True, a blog must by definition be open and personal, but surely not to the point where a company of the caliber of HP filters the replies it posts (read Lionel’s reply) and places a legal disclaimer at the foot of each page which reads:

“Opinions expressed here and in any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors, not of HP and may not have been reviewed in advance by HP.”

In this case, there is a certain inconsistency in what employees are saying about their companies, and how these same companies wish to be represented.

If you’re truly sincere, why not, as Dell has rightly done, stand by your comments and do without the disclaimer? At least that way you bind the underlying truth of your words to the principles, values and goals of the company you (directly or indirectly) represent.

And that’s where an intelligent marketing department enters the equation.

As I mentioned in my unpublished post, “I think that only the foolish would seriously believe that behind the apparent liberty with which Dell, HP and Lenovo people blog, marketing didn’t have a hand in establishing the general guidelines and
best practices to be implemented.”

Look closely and you don’t find debate on corporate blogs. Discussion yes, and even some serious “link appreciation”, but not debate.

Investor relations, client loyalty and sheer common sense dictates that corporations of this scale will continue to foster brand awareness with the same care and attention they have devotedly applied since conception.

Blogging gives them another channel, it’s true. A more open channel for sure (with (unfiltered?) feedback to boot!), but a channel all the same.

And that’s how it should be.