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BLOG: Why Acer is wrong about Microsoft Surface

Mike Elgan | Aug. 13, 2012
Columnist Mike Elgan says the CEO should think twice about his statement, because he is wrong.

So what part of Kan's statement is true? When Kan said: "It is not something you are good at," what does he mean by "it"?

Microsoft makes the best advanced-interface gaming appliance on the market. Microsoft makes the best large multitouch appliances on the market. And Microsoft has a killer track record in designing, making and selling hardware.

Sure, Microsoft is still making billions on software. From a business perspective, Microsoft is still a very successful software company.

But in the past 10 years, all of Microsoft's "hot" products -- the ones that lead categories, get rave reviews and engender loyal fans -- are hardware products.

Microsoft hardware is better than Acer hardware

Implicit in Kan's criticism is that companies like Acer are good at making touch tablets, while Microsoft is not.


Over the years, Acer has made some very good, very solid laptops. The company has also made pretty good desktops and tablets.

But Acer has never made a single hardware product that's groundbreaking, category leading or even exciting -- unlike Microsoft.

Acer products are solid, but bland and safe. Acer industrial design is clunky and unsophisticated and firmly stuck in the PC world of the 1990s.

Acer makes precisely the kind of hardware that has zero chance of success in Apple's iPad-driven, post-PC world.

Unlike the many laptops that Acer is best known for among users, Microsoft's Xbox 360 is in the same generational category as the Microsoft Surface. And what I mean by that is that the Xbox is really a post-PC appliance that puts a serious emphasis on innovative next-generation user interfaces.

While Acer specializes in yesterday's PCs, Microsoft makes the most advanced user interface device in the world, in the sense that Xbox uses high-definition haptic feedback, motion gesture command, voice command and more, and all this in a low-cost consumer appliance that has generated a loyal and serious fan base.

What has Acer ever built that's anywhere near as good or as advanced or exciting or as category-leading as the Xbox?

Nothing! Ever!

OEMs aren't loyal anyway

In addition to falsely stating that hardware is not something Microsoft is good at, Kan said in the same interview that "If Microsoft... is going to do hardware business, what should we do? Should we still rely on Microsoft, or should we find other alternatives?"

He's basically saying that if Microsoft is going to compete against OEMs like Acer, maybe OEMs like Acer should stop being loyal to Microsoft and look for alternatives to Windows.

My question is: What is Kan smoking? Microsoft partners in general, and Acer in particular, are perfectly disloyal to Microsoft, and have been pursuing alternatives for years.


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