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Does Acer have Apple envy?

updated 07:55 pm EDT, Tue September 21, 2010

Editorial: Acer next in line of Apple imitators

Acer is well on its way to becoming the world's largest PC manufacturer. And it has done that by capitalizing on the success of Windows. But now the company is taking aim at Apple, and it's becoming evident that it's the latest victim of a bipolar behavior in the tech industry whenever Apple is a competitor.

Earlier this month, Acer veteran Stan Shih said that Apple's products are "mutant viruses" that, over time, will be overcome by competition that "evolves naturally" and outlasts the threat Apple's products pose. He pointed to the success of Windows to prove his point. He also believed that Android will follow a Windows-like pattern and take out iOS.

Perhaps that's why Acer seems ready to invest some of its cash into Google's mobile platform. Recent reports suggest the PC maker will be offering three tablets at the beginning of next year to compete with Apple's iPad. If true, they will all be powered by Android 3.0 when it's made available. So far, Acer has been tight-lipped on the release of the products other than one model, and reports are merely rumors at this point. But it's becoming clearer that the company will be delivering tablets sooner rather than later. And when that happens, Acer fully expects to compete with Apple's iPad.

But at this point, Acer isn't competing in the tablet space -- at all. And one could argue that it's hardly a direct competitor to Apple in any market, including the PC space where it's far more focused on beating HP than anything else. That means focusing on cheap computers and tight profit margins. That's seemingly at odds with challenging a company that prides itself on high-quality (and thus expensive) products where market share is an incidental worry.

And yet, Acer seems to have Apple envy. That Shih calls the company's products mutant viruses seems to prove that point quite handily; it's afraid of something that grows faster than its own work.

Of course, Apple envy isn't anything new in the tech space. Microsoft has been bashing Apple's Mac OS X for years even at the same time as it was taking notes: Windows Vista was altered to match Tiger's looks, and the Windows 7 taskbar's hybrid shortcuts and status icons were borrowed from the Mac OS X Dock. Companies like Dell and HP have repeatedly claimed to be going their own ways with design, but systems like the Adamo XPS and Envy series were meant to snatch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro buyers, sometimes with uncannily similar looks. And the mobile space is littered with complaints from competitors that attempt to denigrate Apple's iPhone and iPad even as they're releasing similar products of their own.

Acer is simply joining a long list.

But it's a sizable (and important) addition to that list. After all, Acer is a major player in the industry. And when it sees Apple's tablet, which is still in its infancy, as a threat tells us everything we need to know about Acer's mindset -- and where it plans to go next with its corporate strategy.

Like so many other companies, Acer's real issue isn't that Apple is somehow out of control, it just doesn't like that Apple has unprecedented hype for its products. The company also can't stand that Apple is doing so well on so-called "viruses." Plus, there's even a hint of personal jealousy: executives at these firms hate that Steve Jobs gets the attention and respect that he does while their management, however successful, isn't daring enough to get noticed. It's a recipe for severe distaste.

There must be something about Apple. After all, what other company in the space can annoy competitors in one breath yet get them to tag along with another?

By Don Reisinger

by MacNN Staff



  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Acer is way ahead of Apple

    In alphabetical order, that is.

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969


    OF COURSE they're jealous of Apple!

    Acer churns out low-margin, derivative, uninspired, run-of-the-mill, commodity c***...
    just llike every other generic PeeSea box-stuffer out there.

    In a year, or two, or five, they'll be gone. J
    Acer will be just another Packard-Bell, sunk in a sea of anonimity and mediocrity.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. facebook_Timothy

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Sep 2010


    Acer ≠ Packard-Bell

    Riiiight, the largest PC manufacturer in the world is just gonna dry up and blow away.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I'm surprised Acer doesn't just stick with

    the Windows netbook. All the Wintards claim that a netbook is inherently better than a tablet because it has a keyboard and will run Microsoft Office and desktop Flash which supposedly makes any netbook far more useful than the iPad. Acer could have eventually used a dual-processor Atom processor and improved graphics for 1080p videos. They could have continued to use cheap, plastic cases and wouldn't have to compete directly with a tablet. They may have even been able to keep the price below $350. Acer could have tried that route.

    So, now Acer is throwing caution to the wind with a slew of Android tablets that I'm almost certain won't be able to compete with the iPad on terms of quality and still have a low price tag. Other than envy, I honestly don't see why Acer would have a gripe against Apple products. They're popular, consumers enjoy them, so they're willing to pay for them. I thought the whole idea of a good product was to satisfy the customer. Apple is doing that and if they can make money from it, then that's just good business. Obviously, Steve Jobs vision or goals are just different from Shih's and they always have been. It wasn't always easy for Apple, but more and more consumers are now starting to see what Apple products can do for them. How is that a bad thing?

  1. bloggerblog

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Lousy PR

    Stan Shih and his likes should use their last shreds of dignity to congratulate Apple for their success, recognize their recovery from a near death experience, and appreciate the undeniable contribution to an otherwise boring industry!!! Maybe after that, they'll gain some respect. Why can't they do that? are they that arrogant?

    Even if one is a CEO who is looking to comfort his investors, a few words of recognition demonstrates that he understands success.

  1. global.philosopher

    Joined: Dec 1969


    ACER leading the race to the bottom

    What have Acer offered the industry other than assisting to commoditise hardware. Just like most of their direct competitors they fail to offer any innovation and have not been able to create any new markets. They look at what others are doing and immitate. As a whole I have no problem with this but really gets my gall up is when a company that creates nothing new and just rides others coat tails into new markets to make their main market strategy one of ridiculing the market innovators. ACER and for all the others (SAMSUN, etc) try spending a bit moer on market research and R&D and then take a gamble or two...then you will have earnt a bit of put up or shut up.

  1. coffeetime

    Joined: Dec 1969


    "mutant viruses"???

    Here's from

    "Acer founder Stan Shih, in a talks with reporters on September 8, commented that Apple's strong popularity is mainly due to its products such as iPad and iPhone, and these products are like mutant viruses, which are difficult to find a cure for in the short-term, but he believes that PC vendors will eventually find a way to isolate Apple and become immune."

    How about focus on curing Windows first? If not, they should stick to making vitamins like PC parts.

  1. peter.c

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Those who can't create are doomed to compete all t

    If Apple hadn't made the iPad, it's pretty safe to say no one else would be making multi-touch tablets either. Look at how long it's taking for any competition to arrive - even from the largest PC makers on the planet, even with an example to copy. Likewise, with no iPhone there'd be no Android and we'd all be punching keys on screen-stifled, use-impaired, plastic phones that only did four things well.

    Others primarily copy rather than create, Apple primarily creates, rather than copies. That's why PC makers envy Apple: they can't define categories, they just compete for a share of them once they're defined. In the absence of the ability to creatively redefine, you have to pile up feature-lists and reduce quality to make a profit. That's inevitably a race to the bottom.

  1. Foe Hammer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Once Again ...

    Stan Shi* couldn't cure a ham.

  1. facebook_Jeffrey

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Sep 2010


    Just Wow....

    First off, good article. But for the LOVE OF GOD! How hard is it to proof read your articles before posting online? Example: "And when it sees Apple’s tablet, which is still in its infancy, as a threat tells us everything we need to know about Acer’s mindset" Talk about a run-on sentence. I had to catch my breath. It's not just this article but continually articles posted here are just ripe with grammatical errors that are just plain stupid. Are your writers even journalists?

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