Chief executive of Taiwan’s Acer resigns

Gianfranco Lanci, Acer’s chief executive and global president, has resigned from the Taiwanese computer maker, the latest top executive to fall because of a failure to react quickly enough to the rapid changes sweeping through the consumer electronics industry.

Mr Lanci’s resignation on Thursday came after the Asia’s biggest PC group by sales said last week that first-quarter results would be worse than expected, the second straight quarter that it would miss guidance.

Acer, whose core business is selling notebooks and netbooks to consumers in Europe and the US, has been badly hurt by the recent shift towards tablets and smartphones. Its decline over the past few months has left it struggling to maintain its global number two spot against Dell.

In a statement, Acer said Mr Lanci and the board had disagreed on the company’s direction and that they were unable to resolve those differences over several months’ discussion. The board and Mr Lanci “placed different levels of importance on scale, growth, customer value creation, brand position enhancement, and on resource allocation and methods of implementation,” Acer said.

JT Wang, Acer’s chairman, will take over as chief executive as well, effective immediately. Mr Wang said he expected to announce a new global president by the end of April.

Acer’s poor results over the past six months had been the trigger for Mr Lanci’s departure, Mr Wang said. “I understand that among investor circles, [missing guidance] is a very serious, negative outcome... after we missed guidance in the first quarter, I told [Mr Lanci] that this can’t wait. The company doesn’t agree with the path you have chosen,” he said.

Until its recent setback, Acer had outstripped the broader PC market on the growth front by adopting a strategy of being quick to launch new products in large volumes, and often undercutting rivals HP and Dell on price.

Like many of its peers, however, it failed to react immediately to Apple’s success with the iPad, and is only now beginning mass shipments of its first tablet PC model, the Iconia.

Mr Wang said Acer’s new goal was to achieve a leadership position in mobile devices, which now include smartphones and tablets in addition to notebook PCs.

In a break from the past, when it focused heavily on sales volumes, it would “take a more balanced approach” in choosing between maintaining margins and boosting volumes, Mr Wang said.

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