Acer fails to deliver on Chrome OS tablet expectation: Will cloud save the day?

Acer fails to deliver on Chrome OS tablet expectation: Will cloud save the day?

Summary: No sign of a Chrome OS-based tablet yet. But Acer's hitting all the competitive targets, including smartphones, tablets, and wearables. Will it work?

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(Image: CNET/CBS Interactive)

NEW YORK — There's good news, and bad news.

The bad news is that any anticipation of the first Chrome OS-based tablet quickly vanished at the end of Acer's event in New York City on Tuesday. There was a glimmer of hope that with the advances to Chrome OS' platform, notably the inclusion of touch features and an on-screen keyboard, Acer might be the prime candidate to dish out a debut "Chromeslate" of some description.

The good news? Acer seems to have a plan to counter its dwindling market share, revenue, and overall corporate image. Which, in the grand scheme of things, isn't such a bad thing.

The Taiwan-based company dished out a number of hybrid and touch-based laptops at the event, along with a bevy of tablets, and an Intel-based Chromebook it described as the "fastest" on the market. It also surprised many with the addition of a smartphone and wearable fitness band duo that will take the stage at its own launch party later this year.

Acer's taking the slowly-slowly approach. At least for now. Baby steps, it seems.

But how those devices all talk to each other and share data could be the company's golden ticket. 

Acer's chief executive Jason Chen joined the company just four months ago following the resignation of J.T. Wang, who left after a massive fiscal third-quarter earnings collapse. At his first major announcement of the year, Chen presented a strategy that aims to bring the company back up to speed with what its consumers and business customers want.

The idea is simple: Acer's pitching its customers —  against the likes of Dropbox, Microsoft's OneDrive, and Google Drive — with its own private, in-house cloud service that Chen dubs "bring-your-own-cloud" (BYOC).

While not strictly a business-aiming proposal, it is perhaps the first modern twist on what business customers have — a private cloud but for consumer customers, with the aim of nailing down that bring-your-own-device (BYOD) segment with it.

Chen says BYOC is focused on people who "want to own their own data." The reality is that most people keep their vital, important data — along with their photos, videos, and music — on their own devices and in local storage. Yes, there are solutions and services that allow you to upload most data, but it reality it has to come from somewhere, and it's mostly stored on your hard disk.

"BYOC uses your PC as your very own datacenter," he said. "And you're in control."

The concept was first brought up two years ago at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Its proprietary AcerCloud service was a little late to the game, but now the company is taking that foundation and bolstering it at every corner.

As long as you have an Acer device at the core of your private cloud circles, Chen said, you can hook up other devices — mobile includes Android, iPhones and iPads, and Windows tablets — along with any other non-Acer device you can imagine.

Which is handy, considering Acer's market share in the PC business is falling rapidly at just 6.7 percent of the overall market — down by 21 percent year-over-year on the calendar fourth-quarter.

Chen said just before the year's close: "We need to dig ourselves out of a hole," citing poor early investments in touch-panels, ultrabooks, and underestimating the threat from tablets on the PC industry. He also said he wants to further deepen its roots in cloud computing, but noted it's not driving sales.

And that's probably the ticket that's going to drive its investment. The personal cloud is a relatively early twist on the firmly established market, but it could be the driver to push individual sales of Acer laptops a little higher to contend with the established cloud players. 

Cloud computing won't drive sales, but the private cloud concept could be the ticket if it wants to take on the likes of Dropbox, Microsoft, and Google — particularly if it can satisfy those cranky IT managers and chief information officers with regulators, policies, and data protection and security features.

Topics: Cloud, Google, Mobility, Tablets

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24 comments
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  • Pasta hurling.

    Sounds like they're throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. And as for the cloud stuff, if it "won't drive sales", why bother? Those services can be a huge financial drain, and if they're not, in any way, generating revenue you're not likely to dig yourselves "out of a hole".
    matthew_maurice
    • Says a lot about their vision or lack thereof

      Seriously you need to let market tell you ChromeOS is a flop while even Stevie Wonder could see it coming?
      LBiege
      • Cheap Vision

        Acer vision is to provide things as cheaply as possible. Reliability is a different issue. If most of a given product survive the warrantee period that is all that maters. If you get one that survives longer you are mostly lucky. It is especially true of the products sold in the Pacific rim countries. Traveling there I have found Acer to the brunt of many jokes while Lenovo, HP, and Dell are revered for quality. Sadly Acer is all that many can afford.
        MichaelInMA
      • Flop? LOL. Not Quite.

        Chrome OS DOES have its place and does offer advantages to end users. Maybe not you, but to many others IMO.

        Chrome OS is the perfect solution to those non-techie people out there who only need to get to the internet.

        Web Browsing, email, FB.

        Why spend hundreds more to do those basic things?

        No need to concern themselves with OS updates or OS security.

        Again, you many not need or like Chrome OS, but it is NOT a flop.

        Perhaps you simply lack any real vision. Try taking off your OS blinders to see what other options exist.

        You might learn something.

        ~Best wishes on expanding your limited vision.
        GotThumbs
    • "And as for the cloud stuff ... why bother?"

      Because it's the future. And it's here to stay.

      It may not be driving sales right now, but without an answer to the competition, it'll drive them out of business.

      AS for throwing stuff at the wall, that's not quite far; they already have a foot in all these markets, they either up their game in each area, or get out.

      What will likely make or break them, is their vision for laptops; http://www.zdnet.com/acers-bundles-build-your-own-cloud-with-new-tablets-phones-wearables-7000028882/ - and I'm distinctly underwhelmed.

      Many of these 'traditional PC' companies seem to me to confuse tablets and laptops, rather than seeing two quite distinct markets ... but maybe it's me that's out of step.
      Heenan73
      • The cloud is the future hey?

        Funny I thought that's how computers started!

        That's right, back in the early days of computing we all worked on dumb terminals and our information was stored on a remote server! Sound familiar?

        Then something that made PC's take off happened, more powerful computers and the ability to store stuff on your own PC but that took control away from big brother now big brother wants control back. With Google and Apple leading the way big brother is slowly taking over again! CONTROL, is what it's about and the sheeple are lining up to put all there data in the hands of some one else.

        NO, not this little black duck!
        How easy the modern generation have been conned, give it a new name (The Cloud) and tell everyone it's the greatest thing since sliced bread and watch them bow down to the mighty cloud!
        martin_js
        • I dont think big brother cares.

          Living in the past?
          Altotus
      • Cloud is the future? How you liking the NSA and the OpenSSL bug?

        1) Let's see.. Judge rules that an American company must disclose customer data, regardless if it is physically stored in a data center in a different country. Either this nonsense ends quickly, or every other country will impose similar requirements and there will effectively be no cloud privacy.

        2) Regardless of data access laws, hacking an entire datacenter is a lot more productive than hacking users one by one.

        3) Like little sheep, most of "the cloud" is secured using OpenSSL. Instead of Cisco writing their own implementation, and Dlink writing their own, etc, we get a ridiculous monoculture that makes data more vulnerable, not less. Variability in biology protects against some disease wiping out all of humanity, yet clearly we haven't applied any basic lessons from that...

        So you forgive THIS PERSON for thinking the cloud proponents can go take a flying leap.
        croberts
      • With the cloud

        becoming less and less viable as a business option every day and a risk for private users, hosting your own cloud might be the future.

        With the Patriot Act, the Snowden leaks, the court decision this week against Microsoft and the general attitude to the Internet by the US Government - everything on it belongs to us and we don't need no stinking warrants to look at it - the major cloud services are too big a risk for businesses and private individuals doing business outside the US borders.

        Using Google, Apple, MS, Amazon etc. clouds is risking getting prosecuted in places like Europe, if they hand over the data to US authorities. The same goes for Dropbox, Box, Evernote and pretty much any cloud service with any presence in America.

        I think we are going to see the Internet fracture and local country or economic area wide "Intranets" spring up.

        The USA government seems to be making it impossible to do global business if you are an American company.
        wright_is
  • So it was not what was clamed to be the problem

    In this is case no matter what Operating System they, Acer's products would not stick!
    Wonder.man
  • Focus

    Acer needs to find a game plan and stick to it. Instead of testing out new ideas they are constantly shifting the companies strategy in new directions trying to ride the next wave to success.
    SovereignTechnology
    • Agree.

      Try building better products.
      gomigomijunk
  • failure

    chrome "OS" = failure
    hoppmang
    • Oh then what is success?

      Interesting opinion of what failure means.
      Altotus
  • Like I've said

    As it is now chromeOS it's not very suited for tablets.
    AleMartin
  • I like Acer's idea

    "The idea is simple: Acer's pitching its customers — against the likes of Dropbox, Microsoft's OneDrive, and Google Drive — with its own private, in-house cloud service that Chen dubs "bring-your-own-cloud" (BYOC)."

    "BYOC uses your PC as your very own datacenter," he said. "And you're in control."

    If Acer could sell or lease a private cloud appliance to power users, professionals, and small businesses in particular, I believe it could be very successful. Marketing the appliance would be easy. "Have your own cloud! Control your own data, which you can access anywhere! Sleep better at nights about who is watching your data!" EXECUTION HOWEVER WOULD HAVE TO BE EXCELLENT. The beauty about it, is when everyone is heading for the public cloud, or back to thin client computing, and very few are making money, Acer could have this market all to itself, and make some decent bucks.
    P. Douglas
  • Whoo Hoo!

    access my own data from anywhere? Isn't that the mostest newest inovatest idea evah!

    Oh wait, I can already do that with my Linksys Router.

    DOH!
    Mujibahr
    • Does your Linksys router store data on it?

      What Acer is talking about is a kind of NAS server for the Internet rather than just your network, and an easy to set up and maintain appliance at that.
      Mah
  • Acer tries anything once or twice

    One thing I know about Acer is that they will try any thing once or even twice. Even a niche market is potential for Acer. But they are also the first to drop something that does not work.
    I noticed so far they have failed to introduce new Chromebook's? Does this mean Chromebooks are not doing so well? Or that Acer decided they don't make any money? I cannot imagine Chrome tablets will be any better. Now we see HP doing a Android laptop.
    So will Acer follow suit? Chrome OS does have a following as the Netbooks did a couple years back. But it quickly faded as users became frustrated with hardware. Today, I think many are upset with the Chrome OS then hardware. So many try and install Linux on Chromebooks which tells me they want a more robust OS. I am not sure Android is any better then Chrome. Maybe its why even iPad sales have slowed, users are not so satisfied with a tablet OS because they have tried to use tablets as PC's. It will be interesting to see where tablets go in usability. Will they always be a second or third device?
    JohnnyES-25227553276394558534412264934521
  • Yo dawg, I heard you like clouds

    ...so we'll give you the ability to put your data that you used to store on your own computer, but now store on someone else's computer, back on your own computer! And wait, we need an acronym...BYOC! Brilliant!

    ...no seriously, that's basically how I read this article.

    Joey
    voyager529