Acer unveils cheapest ultra-thin notebook

Aspire Timeline to retail at under $1,000

Acer, the world’s third-largest PC vendor, on Wednesday shook up the global notebook computer market with the launch of a new range of ultra-thin products at half the price charged by competitors such as Sony, Samsung and Fujitsu.

JT Wang, Acer’s chairman, said in Beijing that the Aspire Timeline, a lightweight, very portable notebook with a slim profile and more than eight hours of battery life, would sell for less than $1,000, compared with about $2,000 for most similar products.

The sector was launched last year by Apple, whose Macbook Air, the world’s thinnest laptop, has a minimum price tag of $1,800.

The move is set to speed up the commoditisation of the PC market following the success of netbooks – small, low-end notebook computers – which have grabbed more than one-fifth of the world notebook market in little more than a year.

Mr Wang said he expected the ultra-slim notebooks to account for up to 30 per cent of Acer’s global shipments this year.

“Two years from now, such products – super-slim, eight hours battery life and a price tag of a few hundred dollars – will make up 50 per cent of the global notebook market,” he said.

Acer’s success with netbooks helped its market share rise to 11.9 per cent at the end of last year, compared with 9.4 per cent a year earlier, according to research firm IDC.

Mr Wang, who said he felt “very confident” that Acer’s shipments this quarter would increase by more than 25 per cent year-on-year, said he expected to win another two to three percentage points of global market share this year.

But analysts questioned whether the new products would have as transformative an effect on the global market as the netbook did last year.

“It is a different concept from the netbook. The netbook created a new market for a second computer, while this is being positioned as a primary PC,” said one Taipei-based analyst.

Acer also plans to launch up to 30 models this quarter in an aggressive push to grab more market share during the global economic downturn.

This pace outstrips China’s Lenovo, the world’s fourth biggest PC brand, which said last week that it planned to launch more than 40 models in the coming 12 months.

Lenovo aims to become “the fastest company in the industry”, said Yang Yuanqing, chief executive.

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