Acer shows us the Ace(r)s up its sleeves

27 Nov

It might have come to the smartphone party a trifle late, but Acer is definitely
trying its best to make up for lost time. The company started off with
its Tempo series of solid, though hardly spectacular, smartphones, and
less than a year later has switched tracks adroitly and rebranded its
phones as the Touch series.We caught up with Acer’s Richard Tan, Country Head – India, to find out more about about Acer’s plans and we must admit to being more than a little impressed.

Richard made one thing clear to us – the company is in no mood to aim
small. It aims to grab a tenth of the Indian smartphone market and 7-8
per cent of the world smartphone segment in the coming year. And it
aims to do so by sticking to virtues that are as old-fashioned as cold
water baths and meditation – great devices that are easy to operate,
offered across all segments. And Acer is relying its sales and service
infrastructure as well as its manufacturing muscle to help it overhaul
the competition – do not snigger, it was this threesome that got it
leadership in the netbook segment.

In fact, the three devices that Richard showed us reflected this
strategy – the all-touch beTouch e101 being targeted at the mainstream,
the touchscreen-with-slider beTouch e200 focused on the hip and fashion
conscious, and the Acer neoTouch S200 large touchscreen phone aimed
squarely at power users. All three devices run Win Mo 6.5 and all of
them are priced competitively. In fact, at Rs 11,900 (about USD 255),
it is easily the most affordable Win Mo 6.5 device available in the
Indian market and while it does not boast 3G or Wi-Fi, it does come
with 528 MHz Qualcomm processor and a large 3.2 inch screen, making it
a brisk performer.  The S200, of course, is a barnstormer in our book
with its large 3.8 inch screen and 1 GHz processor making it the best
Win Mo 6.5 device we have handled to date. Period.

Interestingly, all these devices come with a new skin from Acer,
replacing the room-like ambience that was present in the Tempo models.
Richard says that Acer decided to change tack and rather than focus on
something complex (read Touch Wiz and Touch Flo), decided to keep
things simple. The idea, says Richard, is to make users want to use the
device rather than get intimidated by them. The approach certainly
works with a simple homescreen that has nine icons on it, six of which
are customisable – no fancy hold-them-down-and-scroll routines but
heck, no learning curve either.  Shades of Android, eh?

Speaking of the big A, Richard told us to expect an Android device from
Acer in December. Of course, he would not tell us if it was the
much-heard of Liquid, restricting himself to stating that it would be
“revolutionary and different.”  But the real surprise came when we
asked Richard if Acer would be working on a value for money Android
device. Speaking Hindi with an accent that would have been the envy of
Old Delhi shopkeepers, Acer’s Country Head- India, said: “Boss, thoda
rukna padega
.” (Boss, you will have to wait for a while.)

We are waiting, we are waiting.

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