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Innovation

Acer might be #2, but is the Ed market buying?

Should Acer care? When kids successfully use HPs at school, what are they going to purchase when they go to college? When they buy their first family computer? When they end up purchasing for their company? Probably not Acers.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor on

So Acer is the #2 PC manufacturer in the world. Although they remain #3 in the States, I just don't see them penetrating the important Ed Tech market niche. Sure, they ran a relatively successful seed program, signing up 5500 schools and districts for a free trial of an Aspire netbook and/or a Veriton low-profile desktop. They even gave away a couple computer labs. But is your school buying Acers?

Although they aggressively priced their Aspire netbooks, other OEMs have quickly stepped up their games, making (in my opinion, having used them all) better quality netbooks from Lenovo, Dell, and HP available at highly competitive prices. Guess where the netbook I bought at half price through Acer's first seed program is sitting? In a box, under my desk, waiting for me to get around to sending it back to Acer with a blown motherboard.

I'm not saying that Acers are junk. I happen to have a lemon. But in Ed Tech, there's a reason we often stick with Dell, HP, Lenovo (to a lesser extent), or Apple. When price is rarely a differentiating factor (computers are cheap all around these days), then brand matters. Acer's brand just isn't there yet in Ed.

Should Acer care? They can obviously sell a whole boatload of inexpensive computers through a variety of retail outlets. However, when kids successfully use HPs at school, what are they going to purchase when they go to college? When they buy their first family computer? When they end up purchasing for their company? Probably not Acers.

HP and Dell also have the advantage of being able to offer comprehensive enterprise solutions. You can't buy an Acer server. Or thin client. Or managed switch.

It's time that Acer leveraged its market share and economies of scale in manufacturing and really started to offer highly cost-effective solutions to education. $500 for a netbook running Vista doesn't count as highly cost-effective. This could be a win-win for education and Acer, even if they continue to focus on desktop, portable, and 1:1 solutions.

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