"This creates an interesting new scenario," said Julian Phillips, notebook business manager at direct seller Dell. "One of the problems Acer has had is getting corporate business. Acer and TI are in virtually the same bag in terms of bringing product to market. If you look at [market researcher] Dataquest's figures for the first and second quarter, both Acer and TI are way down so as far as we are concerned it doesn't make a jot of difference - if anything it marginalises them even further.
"They don't have a corporate reseller base and that is their real problem. I can honestly say I don't come up against Acer or TI; I come up against Toshiba, Compaq and IBM, and occasionally Hewlett-Packard and AST."
Acer marketing director for north-west Europe Dave Tanner disputed the Dell claims. "The market shares [of Acer and TI] are pretty similar, three to three-and-a-half per cent, and you can't get those numbers without coporate customers. Together we should get into the top five and that gives us critical mass. The TI channel gives us a broader channel and gives us a reasonable number of corporate customers which Acer wants to put its name in front of.
"We can break into the top three. Toshiba is the only difficult one. Toshiba equals notebooks in a lot of customers' minds, in the way that Compaq equals servers. But the difference is that with Compaq it is 'we always buy Compaq notebooks because we buy their servers', and there is a softness there. Building notebooks is a complicated business and we all have skeletons in our closets."