Andrew Hou, President of Acer computex 2024

Interview – Andrew Hou, President of Acer and team share more about Acer’s performance and direction in 2024

At Computex 2024, the biggest watchword bedecking every booth, almost every brochure and veritably every bunting in sight on the vast showroom floor was all about one thing – AI. With chipmakers putting their best foot forward such as Intel with their upcoming Lunar Lake processors, AMD with their Ryzen AI 300 series and Qualcomm with their imminent deployment of Snapdragon X Elite equipped laptops, AI is coming to the masses in a big way. 

Acer booth at Computex 2024

The Acer booth at Computex 2024 showcased their latest technologies and offerings including the Acer Swift 14 AI, the new Spatiallabs Eyes 3D camera and more

In an interview with Acer’s top management at their headquarters in Xizhi district in Taipei, we managed to get the lay of the land of what lies in store for the Taiwanese titan, their upcoming plans and how they are adapting and embracing the AI-centric phenomenon in their upcoming products. 

At the interview, we spoke with Andrew Hou, President, Acer Pan-Asia Pacific Operations; Jerry Kao, Chief Operating Officer and President of IT Products Business of Acer; James Lin, General Manager, Notebook Products Business; Wayne Ma, General Manager IoB Business (Routers) at Acer, Jane Hsu, Director, Business Development, Spatial Computing Product Business and Marc Ho, Senior Director, Product Management, Digital Display Business (Monitors) .

The Acer management team was interviewed together, except for Andrew Hou, who provided his responses separately and gave an opening keynote on the company’s performance.

From left: Jane Hsu – Director, Business Development, Spatial Computing Product Business; James K. Lin, General Manager, Notebook Products Business; Jerry Kao, Chief Operating Officer and President of IT Products Business; Wayne Ma, General Manager IoB Business

From left: Jane Hsu – Director, Business Development, Spatial Computing Product Business; James K. Lin, General Manager, Notebook Products Business; Jerry Kao, Chief Operating Officer and President of IT Products Business; Wayne Ma, General Manager IoB Business at an interview session at Acer headquarters during Computex 2024

Andrew Hou, President, Acer Pan-Asia Pacific Operations on Acer’s performance in Asia Pacific – Acer Predator League and Acer Day are key to success

Before the interview commenced, Andrew shared a bit more about Acer’s performance in the prior year. He shared that while consumer electronics and the consumer market in general remained slow, he notes that commercial projects in various countries are coming back.

Acer enjoyed a 5% year-on-year growth as of Q1 2024 and that the cornerstone of their performance was less on account of consumer spending and more due to their commercial arm that raked in US$$45 million in revenue. “You might ask, is Acer a consumer brand? Yes! However, in the Asia Pacific region, we are also very strong in the commercial segment as well,” said Andrew.

Andrew also added that their momentum in the competitive gaming market was increasing. “Gaming is a segment that is enjoying a resurgence and Asia Pacific has a large and young population so the penetration rate for PC and gaming is still very low. We see the momentum for the gaming segment returning,” said Andrew.

He elaborated that Acer remains strong in several countries, in particular the Philippines. “For consumer, PC, desktop and gaming. Even for government and education tenders, the Philippines are a really strong market for us.

He elaborated that a key aspect to their growth in the gaming sector was their annual Predator League gaming tournament and which recently enjoyed a regional final earlier on in January this year in the Philippines. For the uninitiated, the Predator League commenced in 2018 with the inaugural tournament taking place in a mall in Indonesia with eight countries submitting teams to the tournament. 

The following year, the League took place in Bangkok in a small stadium with 16 countries participating in the League. From there on, the Predator League grew from strength to strength.

Acer Predator League logo at Computex 2024

When the pandemic occurred, the event had to be held as an online only event but interest continued to grow. In 2024 when they hosted it in the Philippines once more, Andrew shared that they offered 15,000 tickets for sale with VIP passes going for US$65 which is a substantial sum in the Philippines and every ticket including VIP passes was sold out within two weeks. 

We host this event not just to entertain but to also share the power and performance of our gaming products. Our gaming notebook market share in Q1 2024 went up to a record high in the Philippines, at 53% we remain the dominant market player. The Acer Predator League was an amazing event and this is why we will continue hosting the League and expanding its presence further,” said Andrew. 

Another key aspect to Acer’s success especially in the Philippines is that the Predator League isn’t just a gaming event but a celebration as well with live performances by local singers.

When people think about gaming, we want them to think about the Predator League. We plan to make future events even more fun and significant for fans.” In fact, he added that in the Philippines, they’ve bought the intellectual property rights to the Predator theme song created by a local singer about the League in perpetuity with a plan to create a version in multiple languages. For 2025, Acer will be holding the Predator League in Malaysia.

In addition to expanding their presence in gaming, Acer is also making inroads towards lifestyle-oriented products, such as their Acerpure range that includes air purifiers, fans and more.

To expand their presence in the lifestyle market, Acer introduced the more environmentally oriented Acer Day which debuted in 2017 and which has been held annually ever since that  targets a broader demographic and which has a more family oriented array of activities including runs and participative activities in malls while experiencing Acer’s new products including their Vero series that includes post-consumer-recycled plastic .

acerpure products at computex 2024

Acer has enjoyed great success with their AcerPure range of products which include fans, air purifiers and a hair dryer too.

Acer Day enables consumers to take their kids, their parents and enjoy the experience together. With Acer Day and the Predator League, we aim to bring the Acer brand to a higher level of brand awareness with end users and our efforts have borne fruit,” said Andrew.

In addition to their growth in the Philippines and steady growth in Thailand, Andrew also elaborated that they’re making inroads in India, having just established AcerPure in India last year in April 2023 which emphasises the Made in India initiative where products are made locally to create jobs and support local communities. 

Andrew Hou, President, Acer Pan-Asia Pacific Operations

Andrew Hou, President, Acer Pan-Asia Pacific Operations

Following the briefing on Acer’s regional performance, Andrew and his team took several questions which have been edited slightly for clarity and brevity.

Q: Acer is a strong brand in the Philippines, in Malaysia, India and much of Southeast Asia. However, Japan is still a small market. Why is that the case?
Andrew: That is a good question and the Japanese market is a mature market so people there already have a brand image in mind and already have an established mindset as to what are strong performers and good brands in their market which are dominated by strong domestic brands.

We have enjoyed our greatest growth in emerging markets which have younger populations and which are more open minded to accepting new brands and we are fortunate to have entered at the right time and build up mind share. We won’t give up yet and we have specific designs for the market. 

Q: One of Acer’s stated objectives is to achieve the RE100 initiative by 2035 with the objective of sourcing 100% renewable electricity by 2035. How far along is Acer in achieving this goal?

Andrew: Achieving RE100 is one of our stated corporate directions and we have achieved 40% of this goal across the group. We are also establishing renewable electricity alternatives from different sources so we can achieve this ahead of our 2035 timeline.

Q: With the emphasis on AI at Computex 2024 this year, has there been any additions to the Vero and AcerPure product line-ups?

Andrew: The reason we didn’t mention the Vero series which was a hot topic last year was that there was no room with the marketing emphasis on AI this year but we are constantly pursuing this as part of our corporate mission. 

Q: Does Acer plan to explore handheld gaming devices like what Asus and MSI are doing?

Andrew: We have this intention but it is also a very busy segment so we need to make sure we have a solid product before committing.

Jerry: We can’t quote a time frame and we need to ensure that our user interface, usage models and pricing are just right for the market, not to compete with OEM competitors but to ensure that it is an accessible aspect of a customer’s gaming ecosystem. The best is yet to come.

Q: Almost every major brand launched Copilot+ equipped PCs this year. Why would a consumer choose to buy an Acer laptop over competitors?

Jerry:  Acer’s unique differentiation to competitors is that we have optimised our design and ensured greater clarity about AI functions for Acer laptops. We have created a special symbol that lights up on our touchpad when the neural processing unit (NPU) is in operation and have consolidated all relevant AI tasks into one AI zone for easier access. 

ACer Swift 14 AI at computex 2024

The Acer Swift 14 AI showcased at Computex 2024 has a special light-up symbol on the touchpad when the NPU is in operation.

Q: Acer has showcased new offerings by SpatialLabs including the new SpatialLabs Eyes 3D camera. Is Acer considering integrating the technology into other devices like smartphones or tablets.

Jane:  I get this question a lot. Our core target audience for SpatialLabs are gamers. I will say that 7 – 10 years ago, most games were in 2D played on 2D monitors but the number of games in 3D are growing. When we originally launched, we only had 50 games but at present we now have 135 and are adding 5-6 new games every month. 

3D has become more accessible than before for gamers and for commercial users though there are still hurdles to overcome. What we want to do right now is present the best user experience possible though the technology right now still isn’t quite there yet.

The technology will get there eventually and pricing will go down as well as resolution for the displays will improve for less cost. We just want to build the best of the best for now but this year, we have introduced the SpatialLabs Eyes camera that will be available in Summer.

Jerry: What we are driving at at Acer Spatial Labs is that it is a 3D ecosystem and we are working with more ecosystem partners to enable more software solutions. As more suppliers are willing to invest in it and with growing demand, the cost will drop. It is not an easy thing to  achieve and something we need to continue investing in and growing.

Wayne: Another aspect we need to consider is latency. Many games need to connect to the cloud and even with a high performance GPU it doesn’t guarantee a good experience in gaming. That’s where a holistic ecosystem comes into play with our other products including our routers which will prioritise gaming traffic while also offering the new WiFi 7 standard. 

Q: Will Acer make an AI monitor

Marc: Yes – we already have AI features in several of our monitors. We will also introduce AI content detection where the display can detect what content is being played such as playing a game or watching a movie and adjust the settings dynamically such as dynamic range and brightness to best fit the current content.

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