Acer eclipses Lenovo, takes aim at Dell

Acer passed Lenovo as the world's third largest PC vendor with its purchase of Gateway, and now it's gunning for Dell.

Acer has passed Lenovo Group as the world's third largest PC vendor with its purchase of Gateway, and now it's gunning for giant Dell.

Next year, Acer could take up to a 12 percent share of the global PC market, putting it in the position to challenge Dell, said J.T. Wang, chairman of Acer, at the company's third quarter investors' conference in Taipei.

Shipments by Acer have been growing fast this year due in part to a focus on laptop PCs, the hottest segment of the PC market, and the company's strategy of working closely with distributors.

Acer's shipments grew 58 percent year over year in the third quarter, according to Gartner. The Taiwanese PC vendor accounted for 8.1 percent of global PC shipments during the quarter, compared to its 5.9 percent share during the same time last year. The figures do not include Gateway, which Acer bought for US$710 million last week.

Dell's unit shipments grew 3.5 percent during the quarter, but it still lost market share compared to last year, finishing in second place at 14.4 percent compared to 15.9 percent.

Hewlett-Packard kept its title of the world's biggest PC vendor by shipments during the quarter with an 18.8 percent share, compared to a 16.1 percent share a year earlier. Lenovo, the fourth place vendor, took an 8 percent share, compared to 7.5 percent last year. Market researcher IDC puts Lenovo ahead of Acer according to its third-quarter PC shipment figures.

"We believe we can maintain strong growth momentum through 2008," said Wang.

Acer forecasts it will still grow by a double-digit figure next year, and faster than the global PC industry. Executives also said the fourth quarter of this year looks to be a good quarter, with no indication of a decrease in demand for PCs.

"We have not seen any slowdown. Demand is still quite good," said Gianfranco Lanci, president of Acer. He forecast unit shipments to grow 10 percent to 20 percent over the third quarter. The company did not say how many PCs it sold in the third quarter, but Gartner puts the figure at nearly 5.55 million units.

In the fourth quarter, Acer will also start adding Gateway shipments to its figures, which will add to its market share.

Gateway sold only 865,000 PCs in its biggest market, the U.S., during the third quarter, down from 1.01 million the same time last year, according to Gartner. Lanci believes a stronger laptop PC lineup will boost Gateway's market share figures in the U.S. going forward because the mobile PC is the hottest segment in the industry. New Gateway laptops could be out as early as the first quarter of next year.

And Dell isn't sitting still. Efforts to turn around its business finally paid off this quarter when its worldwide unit shipments rose for the first time in four quarters. It's a huge company with a lot of resources and could still turn itself around. Acer's executives said size was becoming ever more important in the global battle for PC market share because bigger companies can force suppliers to cut their prices. That means Dell, as the second biggest PC maker, is still in a strong position.

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