Acer, the No. 1 computer maker 5 in the world by market share, having seen the pace of orders slow and work-from-home demand decline as computer makers face supply chain disruptions.
But Acer is working on a solution, says Jerry Kao, the company’s co-chief operating officer. Acer aims to strengthen its environmental credentials by selling notebooks that are made from recycled materials and are easier to repair.
The drag on demand for Acer’s PCs was evident in the second quarter of this year after “okay” revenue from January to March, Kao says. Consolidated first quarter revenue reached $2.6 billion, up 9.5% year over year. Acer has not yet released second quarter data.
“Right now, demand is going strong in all PC segments,” Kao said in an interview. “R2 suddenly started changing – a lot of issues, the war issue, infection issues. I think all PC makers are still struggling.” Some upstream components have arrived late because they were found in eastern China, he says. Lockdowns struck earlier this year on the major commercial hubs of Shenzhen and Shanghai.
The sudden surge in demand for PCs moderated in 2020 and 2021, as home-based consumers snapped up laptops for telework and online schooling, across the industry, according to Kao and others. .
Traditional PC shipments fell 5.1% in the first quarter, says market research firm IDC, as the sector was “coming off two years of double-digit growth.” IDC says vendors shipped more than 80 million PCs in the first three months of the year. The war in Ukraine has affected the supply of semiconductors in part because two Ukrainian firms make lasers used in chip production.
Acer faced global supply chain problems earlier this year because much of its production takes place in the western Chinese city of Chongqing, which has lost the scale of green plants in Shenzhen and Shanghai, Kao says.
The 45-year-old firm based in suburban Taipei ranked fifth in global PC market share in the first quarter, according to IDC data. Lenovo came in first, followed by HP, Dell and Apple. Acer was in financial trouble a decade ago due to management changes amid an increasingly competitive market. But the company was able to make a big comeback by designing Chromebooks and gaming PCs.
Acer launched its eco-friendly Aspire Vero line last year to gain a “much better” position against competitors making similar PC models, Kao says.
Vero laptops use post-consumer recycled materials in their casing and keys, according to Acer. As much as 85% of the packaging is recycled paper. The series started with three notebooks plus all-in-ones and keyboard-like peripherals. The PCs are easy to disassemble and repair, which means they can be fixed rather than discarded in favor of new ones, Kao says. Vero models sell online for upwards of $600.
“You want something unique, then we pop out,” says Kao. “We now spend most of our efforts emphasizing those competitive advantages that others do not have.”