Threats don’t get clearer than this: Acer CEO JT Wang told The Financial Times this week that he has asked Microsoft to reconsider competing head-to-head with Acer and its other PC maker partners by releasing the Surface family of Windows-based tablets. And if Microsoft declines, another Acer executive has suggested that the firm seek out alternatives to Windows.
“We have said [to Microsoft] think it over,” Wang said. “Think twice. It will create a huge negative impact for the ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction. It is not something you are good at, so please think twice.”
It’s not surprising that Microsoft’s PC-maker partners would have complained to the software giant about the Surface devices, the first version of which will arrive in late October alongside Windows 8. But it is unusual for this kind of tension to be aired publicly. Amazingly, Acer has already done so twice: In addition to Mr. Wang’s comments, Acer President Campbell Kan also has some strong words for Microsoft.
“If Microsoft … is going to do hardware business, what should we do?” he asked. “Should we still rely on Microsoft, or should we find other alternatives?”
Though it’s hard to imagine long-time partners such as Dell or HP complaining about Microsoft in public this explicitly, Acer and other Asian PC firms like ASUS, Lenovo, and Samsung are starting to take on a more prominent role. In the most recent quarter, Acer was the third largest PC maker in the world, behind HP and Lenovo but ahead of Dell and ASUS. The company sold about 9.2 million PCs in the quarter, good for about 11 percent market share.