Acer targets smartphone market but keeps OS options open

Acer Liquid running Android. Photo by JeanbaptisteM on Flickr. Some rights reserved

A surge in demand for the latest smartphones has taken the industry by surprise and left it facing a shortage in the key end-of-year holiday sales season, a chief of Acer's mobile phone unit told Reuters.

"The industry as a whole is struggling with supply. It is a bit of a scramble," Aymar de Lencquesaing said.

Research firms have ramped up forecasts for 2010 smartphone sales. IDC said in September that it expects the market to gro overall by 55% in 2010, with 269.6m "converged mobile devices" shipped, compared to 173.5m in 2009.

But that is causing shortages of components, with manufacturers scrambling for parts such as phone screens.

Acer, the world's second-largest PC vendor, entered the smartphone industry last year. It will sell "a little bit under" one million phones this year, giving it market share of less than 0.5%, de Lencquesaing said. It aims to reach 6% of the market in 2014, which would mean selling 30m smartphones.

The company is looking to use other software platforms in its phones alongside Google's Android system. "We like to look at open operating systems in this market - then you have to look at Android, you have to look at Windows Phone 7 and you have to look at MeeGo," de Lencquesaing said.

"We will probably again have Windows Phones, under Windows Phone 7. There is room for more than one operating system."
MeeGo is a new smartphone platform, developed by Intel and Nokia , with phones using it expected to reach consumers next year.

Meanwhile slowing growth in PC sales has led to falling demand for DRAM, the short-term memory used in desktop and laptop computers, where spot prices have fallen 30% in the past quarter and are expected to drop by 40% in the fourth quarter.

By contrast spot prices for Flash memory are rising rapidly as tablet and smartphone makers compete for supply.

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