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Commentary: Acer founder had hinted of CEO step down
Staff reporter, DIGITIMES, Taipei [Friday 1 April 2011]

Before the March 31 announcement of Acer CEO and president Gianfranco Lanci's resignation, Stan Shih founder and shareholder of Acer had made some comments at a press conference on March 29 in Taiwan, already hinting that the CEO may step down in near future.

Commenting on Acer's lower-than-expected performance for two consecutive quarters at a press conference on March 29, Shih pointed out the the rise of tablet PCs and smartphones to become new trends, and the changes in the IT market's ecosystem have already far surpassed what Acer's executives can handle, and that Acer's winning strategy from the past had already lost its effectiveness, and the company needed to implement a change in direction.

Shih pointed out that Acer was originally set to become the largest notebook vendor in 2011 and be the leading PC vendor in 2012, and the strategy was meant to increase the company's profitability through enlarging the company's economic scale; however, since the fact that economic scale does not necessary equal profitability, implementing a successful transformation will be much more important than becoming number one. Winning in shipment numbers, but losing profitability is meaningless.

However, Shih pointed out that he has already stepped out of Acer's operations and was only giving suggestions as a board member. He did not give any clear pointers about how Acer could achieve victory in competition for the "smart online device" segment, saying that Acer's executives are the ones who need to be concerned with that, and that they will need some time to reach a consensus.

Shih once said that a successful enterprise needs to start a reorganization every 10 years. It has been around 10 years since Acer spun off Wistron in 2001, and Shih commented that Acer needs to recreate itself since tablet PCs are a completely different ecosystem.

Shih believes that Acer should face reality and observe the changes in the ecosystem, especially by acknowledging that the appearance of tablet PCs and smartphones has already significantly changed the IT industry. Tablet PCs are attracting consumers who do not use PCs, to start using PCs, and the changes will definitely impact notebook demand; however, it could also be an opportunity for makers.

Shih pointed out that the IT industry should thank Apple for creating a new path and attracting consumers to accept tablet PCs, Acer tried to push tablet PC products in 2000, but failed. Apple has opened up a road for players to follow, and so he believes it should be much easier for others to succeed.

Shih also noted that it is still too early to judge the winner of the tablet PC market, and that Acer still has a good basis to allow a transformation, therefore he is not concerned.

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