Acer: The Last Man Standing

Acer has come out fighting with a raft of new products, and it's all part of an ambitious plan

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Jason Chen isn’t a man to mince his words. As CEO of Acer, he says what he means – and he means what he says. Earlier this year he oversaw Acer’s international product launch in New York, where the business unveiled more than 40 new products, from the world’s first LED projector to new tablets, monitors and notebooks. His goal? Make Acer the “last man standing” in the PC sector.

Sharing Jason’s dynamic, go-getting approach to business is Oliver Ahrens, Acer’s Pan-Asia Pacific President, and one of Acer’s longest-standing employees.

“Usually in the seniority shoot-out, I pull pole position,” Oliver laughs, before adding “there are very few people [that have been] in Acer longer than myself.”

Here are my favourite words of wisdom from the man helping to lead a tech giant into a new era.

Don’t be afraid to re-engineer
“When a patient is sick a doctor makes an analysis, gives the patient medicine, maybe makes changes in their diet and exercise program and maybe there is an operation of some kind. For me, re-engineering is the same. It’s looking into an organisation which cannot make its target, that is losing market share and losing revenue and then finding the reasons and changing the structure, changing the processes and the interaction with the market.”

Being number one isn’t everything
“This is not the Olympic Games, right? You don’t get anything from being number two, although you may feel good for a moment. There was a funny situation in China some years ago where Lenovo had 40 per cent market share, number two had 30 per cent market share and somebody asked me about being in fourth position. They asked me if I wanted to become number two and I said, ‘No, I want to become number four – but I want 20 per cent market share’. I am perfectly fine with holding position number four – if it means around 20 to 22 per cent market share.”

…But staying relevant is important
“I want to be relevant. So I want to have 10 per cent market share first in Asia Pacific – that’s target number one. If I’m still number four, fine, as long as I’m relevant. I want to be relevant in Harvey Norman. I want to be relevant in Dick Smith, in JB Hi-Fi and so on and so on. That’s important. I want to be relevant in the consumer’s mind. We are the number one brand in education in Australia over Apple, so there must be something [about] Acer that they like.”

Being progressive should be part of your DNA
“Everything we make should carry our consumers and the industry forward. ‘If it’s not improving lives, it’s not worth making’ is part of the company’s mantra and mission.”

Touch is the next thing in tech
“I think the big thing is how you interact with the machine. It’s very much driven mostly by Intel and Microsoft as to how you interact with your system by touching, either on screen or off screen. Slowly but surely I think we will see a migration of operating system into a perfect mix of touch and type. That didn’t work so well for Windows 8 – it was too ambitious – but Windows 10 is getting better and I think there are still another two or three steps to be done.”

Being respected is one thing, being loved is another
“I like to make a joke about the relationship between Germans and Italians. Germans love the Italians because they are all passion and la dolce vita and food. And the Italians respect the Germans. The only problem is, the Italians don’t want to be loved, they want to be respected. And the Germans don’t want to be respected, they want to be loved! That’s the same with Acer. We don’t want to be respected, we also want to be loved.”

Read the full story in Issue 22 of the Collective, on stands now. 



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