February 26, 2013, 4:05 PM — Acer plans to release a Windows RT tablet this year as it looks to aggressively expand its lineup of mobile devices, including smartphones.
The PC maker will be releasing mobile products as the PC market stagnates, and Windows RT will be part of its product line, said Oliver Ahrens, president of Europe, Middle East and Africa operations, during an interview at Mobile World Congress.
Ahrens did not provide a specific release date for the Windows RT tablet, but said that work still needs to be done with the usability of the OS. Acer sees potential value, but Microsoft has to put in more effort on making the OS appealing to consumers.
"We will be happy if there is a strong value proposition, it will be good for us," Ahrens said.
There are many Windows RT tablets like Microsoft's Surface, but sales of the products have not been good so far. Many PC makers including Asus, Samsung and Lenovo rushed to create RT devices, but Acer decided to watch the market develop before releasing a product. In hindsight, it was a good decision as the company did not want to sell just 20 units a day, as happened with one competitor that sold a Windows RT tablet, according to Ahrens, who declined to name the company involved.
"It's not a rat race. We could have released it already," Ahrens said.
After announcing at Computex last year that it would release a Windows RT tablet, Acer put the launch on hold, but has since forged ahead with the plan. Acer has also been highly critical of Microsoft's decision to get into the hardware business with the Slate tablets.
Acer started offering Windows 8 in laptops, but early reception for the OS has been cold. That was partly due to a heavy inventory of Windows 7 laptops, which has now cleared, paving the way for better Windows 8 product sales.
"Surely and steadily the appreciation is growing, but it's not a boom," Ahrens said.
But Windows 8, along with Android, will remain the operating systems of choice for tablets going ahead.
"The perceived value of Windows 8 has not really [reached] ... users as the way we'd like to see it with Microsoft products," Ahrens said.
Microsoft's Windows 8 has failed to sell well partly because of the lack of touch hardware available, analysts said. The lack of hardware has been partly responsible for people failing to appreciate the OS.
Acer is trying to find its bearings as it readjusts its business strategy to include more mobile devices. The company became the world's second-largest PC maker in the third quarter of 2009, partly due to netbooks, a laptop category in which it achieved enormous success. The company's fortunes and market position fell with the emergence of tablets and smartphones as alternative computing devices, and now Acer is trying to retool operations to expand in the growth markets.