Acer's "prototype" N3-220 Android all-in-one is more than than just a trial balloon, executives said Monday. It represents the first in a series of PCs that will use Google free mobile OS to carve out a new niche in the ultra-competitive PC market.
Eric Ackerson, a senior product marketing manager and brand manager for Acer, told PCWorld on Monday that the company plans more all-in-one PCs—as well as either traditional clamshell designs or convertible tablets—based around Android. Within the all-in-one category, Acer sees it as powering a central hub within the home.
Acer showed off the Android-powered Gateway N3-220 at the Computex show in Taiwan. Ackerson said that the display on the N3-220 was 21.5 inches, the only specification that he divulged. When a version of the N3-220 comes to the United States—and it will come to market, he said—some of the specifications will change bewteen now and then, including the storage capacity within it. Acer also plans to bring to market "notebooks" that run Android, pushing beyond just tablets, Ackerson added. He wouldn't say whether they'll include both traditional clamshells as well as convertible tablets, but he said that "in some instances, they won't have touch."
According to Ackerson, however, the time for "Droidbooks" and "Droidtops" may have arrived. Other manufacturers, besides Acer, are also planning to make them, Ackerson said, although he declined to name names.
Why? Because the PC market is increasingly under pressure. More and more consumers are turning to mobile devices instead of personal computers, and aren't upgrading those PCs on a regular basis. That's left manufacturers like Acer looking for a way to differentiate themselves, both to create a unique product as well as increase profit margins.
But what's clear, he added, is that consumers are buying smartphones and tablets more often than PCs. "We're just kind of pushing new boundaries as a way to sell more devices," Ackerson said.
Android, as a way to lower costs
Last June, Acer announced the Iconia Tab A700 Android tablet, a $450 tablet that, while cheaper than the Apple iPad, failed to sell well. "We think that, while it was a cool product, it wasn't right for the market," Ackerman said.
The failure of the A700 apparently scarred management, who decided not to aggressively court the high-end Android tablet market. Even though it may be one of the first to market with Android-powered devices, Acer doesn't see itself as a "leader" in the space. "Leader is too strong a word," Ackerson said, implying that Acer will offer radical designs and try to outdo competitors in every specification. 'We're going to be a solid player in the top tier of offerings."
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