International Business Times, India, interviewed Acer's Chandrahas Panigrahi about the company's plans for 2017.
Interview with Acer's Chandrahas Panigrahi | Acer
Acer is one of the leading PC brands, which has managed to keep the ailing PC business alive. From powerful gaming laptops to convenient convertibles, Acer has it all.
As the demand for regular PCs decline, Acer is planning to drive innovation with robust plans for 2017. The company has revealed an interest in the virtual reality (VR) and Internet of Things (IoT) fields, which have attracted attention of several major tech companies around the world.
International Business Times India sat down with Chandrahas Panigrahi, Acer's business head and CMO, to discuss the potential of VR and IoT and the company's plans in 2017. Here are the excerpts of the interview:
IBTimes India: What are your plans for 2017?
2017 will be another exciting year. We will be launching products, which are unique to the market and at the fore-front of technology. We unveiled the world's thinnest laptop Acer Swift 7 and world's thinnest convertible laptop Acer Spin 7 this year and by 2017 we plan to unveil Acer Predator 21 X, a stunning curved screen 21" gaming laptop in India.
Besides this, IoT and VR will be a big focus globally for Acer and we will be seeing these products coming to India soon. Our IoT products will range from helping children learn computer coding right from an early age to devices which help to care for the elderly. We believe our IoT products cater to a segment which will really benefit from our expertise and not just be limited to fancy or expensive solutions.
IBT: What was the biggest trend you witnessed in 2016 and what areas of technology do you plan to explore next year?
Electronics and technology are always evolving; sometimes it can be tough to keep up with the latest trends. If you look at the PC segment we see great acceptance of 2 in 1 or convertible laptops which gives the power to consume and create content with equal convenience. Content consumers are moving to content creators and they need devices to keep up with the change.
We have also sees emergence of hardcore PC gaming market, more people are joining the professional gaming community in India. In 2017 we will be exploring areas like VR and IoT where we are expecting growth especially in the entertainment industry for VR. Acer has a strong product line in the both VR and consumer IoT space and Indian market is poised to grow in this space with improved digital infrastructure and consumer acceptance,
IBT: What is the coolest piece of tech you bought in 2016?
We got some really cool products in 2016, I will have to say the Acer Swift 7 and Predator 21X laptop really pushed the technology boundaries in terms of engineering and technology innovation. I should also mention the Revo desktop series which is modular desktop unit with ability to add features as required. It is a unique concept which showcased our wide technology know-how.
IBT: What is your take on VR, AR, IoT (Smart Homes) and what will drive the innovation in 2017?
IoT and VR will be a big focus globally for Acer and we will be seeing these products coming to India soon. Our IoT products range from helping children learn computer coding right from an early age to devices which help to care for the elderly. We believe our IoT products cater to a segment which will really benefit from our expertise and not just limited to fancy or expensive solutions.
Similarly, Acer is a stakeholder in Starbreeze and we are working in collaboration for developing their VR products. Our tie-up with IMAX shows the capability of the device and we are expecting VR devices not just at home but also at the professional- and location-based entertainment market where you can get even better immersive experience.
IoT and VR will nicely complement our legacy business as these run on our PC, tablet, smartphones etc., which we have built expertise for over 40 years. Some of our products are already VR ready and customers will be able to enjoy the experiences soon.
IBT: What are your targets in terms of sales and revenue for the upcoming year?
2016 has been a momentous year for us. We have grown faster than the market and introduced some record breaking products. Our expertise in the past 40 years and technology know-how coupled with deep understanding of customer needs helped us to grow even with testing market conditions.
We believe 2017 will be another successful year with lots of exciting products in the pipeline.Our retail store expansion has ensured that we have wide reach in the market and strong service support enables confidence in the aftersales experience. We are confident we will again meet our revenue and sales targets in 2017.
IBT: Where does India stand in terms of innovation by the end of 2016 against countries like China, U.S.?
In terms of software innovations India is right up there with the best in the world as you can see with the success Indian companies and executives have achieved over the years. We still need to improve our hardware R&D but even in this we have seen some ingenious inventions in various fields. In terms of talent, India is at par or better than every other nation, if we can back them up with the right infrastructure starting right from college then we will see even more innovations originating from India.
What are your marketing strategies for 2017?
Acer has put in place a robust channel strategy to accelerate growth. Acer is strengthening its partnership as well as customer outreach program with intensive engagement programmes. It has forged strong partnerships with all the large format retail stores, with an aim to increase Acer's brand presence in tier II and III locations. By introducing flagship stores in Tier II, Tier III cities, we look forward to engage with first time buyers and provide them the full brand experience.
We also see good growth in niche segments like gaming where we have a full portfolio of PC gaming products which has garnered worldwide acclaim and is already a leader in some countries. The next 3 years will also see more adoption of IoT products and VR and we are well poised to address the market.Going forward, Acer would be focusing on market segments such as transportation, education, medical and government with applications for e-ticketing, academic systems, healthcare systems and e-government solutions. The company also plans to raise a strong stake in visualisation systems. Further, solutions for telecommunications and IoT management are bound to follow.
IBT: What were your biggest achievements in 2016?
2016, was an astounding year for Acer as we came up with some marquee launches including gaming laptops, all-in-one's and convertibles. At IFA, we unveiled path breaking products like the Acer Aspire Swift 7- the world's thinnest laptop, The Predator 21X; the world's first curved screen laptop and the ultra slim Spin series convertible laptops. Likewise, we also worked closely with the government and research institutions like IIT, IISc etc. to deploy supercomputers for complex research requirement, one such supercomputer is Param Ishan which we developed for IIT-G. This helped us spread our foothold across IT sector – right from innovative laptops to supercomputers.
2016, being a remarkable year for Acer, the company tasted success twice in a row by winning "India's Most Trusted Computer Brand Award" and "Brand Excellence Award in IT sector". Beside this, Acer also achieved the ISO/IEC 20000-1:2011 certification by Indian Register Quality Systems for Acer's dedicated approach in delivering high quality, ascendable and trustworthy services to the key stakeholders. Our products have also won numerous design and innovation awards both internationally and in India. It has truly been a year of many achievements.
IBT: Technology is no longer defined by smartphones, so where do you see your product line heading next? What is your take on wearable industry?
The last 10 years have undeniably been the decade of the smartphone, but now manufacturers have to turn to the next big thing to keep pushing forward. Whether its inventive hardware like flexible screens which can roll out like a newspaper to connected homes and devices technology will move to re-define convenience. We also see emergence of Bots which intelligently learns user requirement and serve the necessary information based on artificial intelligence and learning.
Wearable industry witnessed a sudden growth around 2 years back but now it has slowed down, some of the industry pioneers are moving out of this space. As of now apart for 2 or 3 big companies offering full-fledged smart watches the others are concentrated more on personal fitness tracking with added functionality of time and notifications.