Acer shifts to IoT with enterprise focus

Acer has been focusing less on PCs, and more on enterprise and cloud products

Acer, Canonical Marvell, and Hipad executives announcing their partnerships.

Acer, Canonical Marvell, and Hipad executives announcing their partnerships.

Acer is still producing PCs, but the Taiwanese vendor is far more bullish about the Internet of Things (IoT), a market the company doesn't want to miss out on.

On Thursday, the Taiwanese vendor held a news conference not for a new consumer product, but to promote an upcoming miniature PC that will be sold to developers.

The PC, called the aBeing One, will arrive in the third quarter, and is aimed at developers working in the IoT area. It's designed to connect to smarthome and wearable products, and act as a hub that can analyze incoming data from the devices.

The PC vendor has spoken to many IoT companies looking for an affordable hardware system they can develop on, said Robert Wang, a general manager with Acer.

"Fast moving IoT developers keep running into this issue," he said after Acer's news conference. "Now they can buy from us."

It's a big change for the vendor, given that it once focused on selling consumer notebooks. However, with PC sales sagging and competition rife in the mobile devices area, the company has been shifting toward enterprise products.

That emphasis was apparent at this week's Computex show in Taipei. Acer notebooks and tablets were still on display, but equal billing was given to its cloud computing business, which is starting to power IoT devices, not only from Acer, but also its clients.

On Thursday, Chinese manufacturer HiPad said it had selected Acer to help it run its smart appliances, including an Internet-connected kettle. HiPad aims to sell the products in international markets.

In addition, Acer is hoping to pave the way for more third-party IoT devices. It has partnered with Canonical to install a version of Ubuntu on its aBeing product, so that the hardware can serve Ubuntu developers working on smart connected gadgets.

Acer is not the only one making a bet on the Internet of Things: It seems that the whole IT industry is hoping it will become the next big growth driver.

Research firm IDC predicts the market will reach US$1.7 trillion by 2020, up from $656 billion last year.

Wang expects the IoT market to start taking off in two or three years. "Preparing for this business represents a very critical moment for us," he said. "Otherwise, we will be too late."

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