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Acer bets big on Android (yes, Android) PCs

Mark Hachman | June 12, 2013
Are you ready for Droidtops and Droidbooks? They’re coming! Acer's "prototype" N3-220 Android is the first in a series of PCs that will use Google's free mobile OS to carve out a new niche in the ultracompetitive PC market.

Why? Definitely the price point, Ackerson said, implying that, at least in the mobile space, that $450 price could be a ceiling. In the desktop all-in-one (AIO) market, Ackerson said that he sees the N3-220 or products like it competing against other AIO designs.

Within the desktop AIO space, price is still a big consideration, Ackerson said. "If you're going to go with a larger screen, the expectation from the end user goes up as well," he explained.

What Ackerson indicated that Acer will do is encourage users to buy an AIO like the N3-220 and either bundle it with a tablet, or price it in such a way that users are encouraged to buy a "companion device" like an Android tablet.

Apps remain a problem, and an opportunity
That's not to say that placing Android within a PC-like device has won converts across the board. "None of these devices make sense," Patrick Moorhead, principal with Moor Insights and Strategy, said last week. "Android hasn't evolved beyond 7-inch to 8-inch devices, and there are less than 5000 applications that look good at that resolution. I think that consumers will be very disappointed with them and retailers will experience high return rates because of the dissatisfaction."

Ackerson admitted that more work needs to be done. "Frankly, as a consumer, I've never been pleased with Android," he said.

The answer, Ackerson said, needs to be a "curated experience," where the best apps are rounded up and highlighted to show off both mid-range and large-screen Android implementations. However, Acer has no plans to develop its own app store, like Amazon or Samsung has done, or fork Android to create its own implementation. Instead, Acer will create its own apps, such as links to its own cloud storage applications to create an ecosystem tying Acer's tablets, Droid devices, and PCs.

For now, it's unclear how forcefully Acer will push the its Droidbooks and Droidtops, and how much of an impact they'll eventually have on the market. Desktop applications like BlueStacks rather clumsily emulate Android apps within a PC environment. But if you've ever  wanted to use QuickOffice in the office, then play a relaxing round or two of Flick Golf on the bus home, it sounds like Acer will soon meet those needs.


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