'

Acer

The Taiwanese computer maker intends to win over the U.S. and China markets in 2006.

Acer has lofty plans for 2006.

The Taiwanese PC vendor intends to win over the U.S. and China markets by taking on incumbents Dell and Lenovo, respectively. While some market watchers might scoff at Acer's gall, the computer giant could end up having the last laugh, given its track record.

Acer was founded in 1976 by Stan Shih, although it only took on its current name in 1987. Ranked the world's fifth-largest PC maker in 2004 by market researcher iSuppli, the Taiwanese company started out as a contract manufacturer for the likes of IBM, before deciding to establish itself as a global brand in the 1990s. When that attempt failed, naysayers wrote off Acer as an also-ran that has no chance against Dell and other formidable PC rivals.

The company did not retreat completely, however. Acer underwent a group-wide transformation in 2000, spinning off two successful subsidiaries, AU Optoelectronics and BenQ. Since 2000, the Acer brand has extended beyond PC products to information appliances and e-enabling services, while the BenQ brand reinforces the company's core focus on cross-media digital devices.

Acer has redoubled its efforts to sell PCs under its own brand name in recent years, and this has met with success, especially in Europe. The company claims to be one of the top three PC vendors in Germany, France, Switzerland and Denmark. In addition, Gartner's measurements for PC shipment in the first quarter of 2005 shows that Acer is the world's fifth best-selling PC vendor, with 1.85 million units shipped.

Today, the company's diverse portfolio includes products and services ranging from servers to monitors to projectors. And now with its attention on the U.S. and China markets, Acer could very well claw its way up to the top spot, riding on the wave created by its Ferrari range of notebooks.