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Acer is transforming into a lifestyle brand; here’s how



Written by Anuj Bhatia
| New Delhi |

Published: September 1, 2020 9:22:44 am

Acer, Predator Thronos, Predator Thronos gaming chair, Acer ConceptD laptops, Acer Predator series, Acer laptops in India, Acer Swift, Acer Harish KohliThe Acer Predator Thronos Air is a $13,999 outlandish gaming chair.

A gaming chair that costs as much as a car, a professional laptop aimed at intense tasks like 3D rendering, a notebook that weighs 890 grams, and a portable projector that acts as an entertainment hub. All of these diverse products come from one brand: Taiwan’s Acer, the world’s fifth-largest PC maker.

Not long ago, these devices would have been considered “misfit” in the company’s product portfolio, but not any more. In fact, now Acer proudly boasts that it makes products like the Predator Thronos, a multi-monitor gaming cockpit that’s priced at Rs 15,99,990, or the ConceptD 7 Pro laptop that directly challenges the MacBook Pro and will set you back by Rs 300,000.

You might find these products ridiculously priced, and yes, they are expensive. But Acer says the company is responding to consumers who are ready to drop Rs 300,000 on its ConceptD 7 Pro or Rs 800,000 on Predator 21X gaming laptop.

“The usage pattern is changing dramatically and people are looking forward to dedicated devices rather than a generic device,” Harish Kohli, President & MD, Acer India told in an interview. “So this is where the customer base is moving.”

Kohli says the customers now expect a laptop which specifically meets the demand based on the applications they like to use. A laptop like Predator Helios 500 might be best suited for a professional gamer rather than a frequent traveller who would rather buy the Swift 5. “As the demand, or customer’s thought processes are continuously changing, it’s throwing up points to say, we are looking forward to specific products around the notebook to be made, meant for a specific application,” he explained.

Acer, Predator Thronos, Predator Thronos gaming chair, Acer ConceptD laptops, Acer Predator series, Acer laptops in India, Acer Swift, Acer Harish Kohli The ConceptD 7 Pro is pitched at graphic designers, 3D animators and filmmakers.

Acer’s product lineup has grown over the years and one might say it’s confusing, but Kohli begs to differ. Instead, Kohli argued that the company is making sure that its products do not overlap each other. The ConceptD laptops are aimed at creators and video editors, the Predator lineup targets amateur and professional gamers, the Swift series is about thin and light notebooks and the Spin lineup is all about convertibles. Enduro, a new line of rugged laptops and tablets designed to be used outdoors, is awaiting necessary certifications in India.

“As a brand, we must be able to meet all the required spec, which that class of a buyer is looking forward to because that buyer is willing to pay the money for it, as long as you give to him what he’s looking forward to,” Kohli added.

But then again, Kohli’s focus is clearly on establishing the market for premium notebook series such as the ConceptD family, Predator series or Swift line of thin and light notebooks. Does that mean Acer is done making entry-level notebooks? Well, Acer still makes entry-level notebooks but the priority has shifted towards high-end systems designed to meet needs for “specific application-oriented products” and “not just a notebook.”

Acer, Predator Thronos, Predator Thronos gaming chair, Acer ConceptD laptops, Acer Predator series, Acer laptops in India, Acer Swift, Acer Harish Kohli The ConceptD 7 Ezel laptop sports a floating display.

“We’ve focused on where the market needs to be developed by us. Because when it comes to a market which is already developed, it is left to the channel partners of ours to take care and fulfil whatever demand generation that they need to do,” he said.

For Kohli, Acer’s current focus is on developing the market for laptops that serves the purpose of creators, gamers and business travellers. As he pointed out, buyers are ready to buy such products because the market is moving in that direction. It’s a sign that one notebook can’t fulfil the demands of a diverse set of users. You need aspirational notebooks, laptops with striking appearance as well as the thinnest and lightest notebooks.

The way people see a laptop is also changing and that’s visible in Acer’s current line of notebooks and desktops. In the US, Acer’s ConceptD series isn’t just limited to notebooks; it now includes desktops and monitors. Its focus on pleasing Hollywood film editors and creators can be seen in products like the ConceptD 7 Ezel that has a floating panel or the ConceptD 700 workstation that has a wood-grain inspired top of the chassis. Both products show what Acer is trying to do with laptops and desktops.

Acer, Predator Thronos, Predator Thronos gaming chair, Acer ConceptD laptops, Acer Predator series, Acer laptops in India, Acer Swift, Acer Harish Kohli The $9000 Acer Predator 21 X featured a 21-inch curved screen, nine heat pipes and two power supplies.

Similarly, Acer is trying to expand the reach of the Predator sub-brand by expanding into other products and accessories like high-end monitors, keyboards and gaming chairs. The Predator Thronos Air is a fine example of how Acer is developing a market for a new product. It’s an over-the-top gaming chair that comes with a modular desk, a footrest, and an arm that can carry three monitors. The chair can be adjusted to various angles and even has a massage function. It might seem crazy to pay $13,999 for a gaming chair, but if you are a pro-gamer and have that kind of money, Acer is at your service. The Predator Thronos Air is not available in India, but the original Predator Thronos can be bought for 15,99,990.

“We launched the 21-inch Predator 21 X gaming laptop priced at $9000 in 2017. We sold about 125 of those in one year, including three in India. In India, the price was closer to Rs 8,00,000 and all three units were sold with advance money being paid by a professional gamer and was willing to wait for three months of time,” Kohli recalls.

“A notebook is not going to be a generic product which is meant for every application,” Kohli sounded optimistic while predicting the future of laptops. “There will be products which are more specific for a specific set of people like ConceptD range. That is something I think will keep happening because then you will have more and more application-based products getting developed.” Kohli, as expected, refused to talk about the future lineup. Is Acer working on dual-screen laptops? Only time will tell.

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