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Acer plus TI could shake up notebook big three

The combination of Taiwanese giant Acer and the mobile computing business of Texas Instruments (TI) could make the notebook market's "big three" become a "big four".

The agreement for Acer to buy TI's mobile unit for an undisclosed sum was announced yesterday and the deal is expected to be complete by the end of March, creating a significant new force in a market where Toshiba, Compaq and IBM have invested heavily to take the sales podium.

Under terms of the agreement, Acer gets its hands on TI's TravelMate and Extensa trademarks for three to four years. Acer is also expected to continue with its own AcerNote Light and AcerNote Nuovo notebook lines.

In the UK all mobile PC staff will move from TI's Sunbury, Middlesex offices to Acer's High Wycombe, Bucks. site in April. Although TI has made spectacular progress in the US to make it to the top five sellers, UK performance has not been so impressive. According to Dataquest, TI currently has about four per cent of the UK notebook market.

However, UK marketing manager Nick Brown said Acer was buying a broader channel presence and product line. "There are great synergies in terms of channel development and corporate accounts," he said. "The problem for us was that we really needed more manufacturing flexibility and manufacturing muscle in order to take on the big three and we already had strong partnerships with Acer who manufactured our Extensa line. Acer wanted to strengthen their route to market through distribution and we have strength through five distributors. We can help them win a much wider channel and get corporate wins."

PCDN Comment: This is a bold move by Acer that could shake up the notebook market. Acer's manufacturing capacity and strength in the consumer sector combined with TI's highly-rated design skills and brand make a potent global mixture. That said, neither firm has impressed in the UK in recent years.