Acer aims to be a top-five smartphone vendor

The company targets shipping 20 million smartphones in 2012

Acer, the world's third largest PC vendor, plans to be among the top five in smartphones within the next few years by creating handsets aimed at people in different market segments and working judiciously on its user interface software.

"Our goal is to be in the top five within three to five years," said Aymar de Lencquesaing, president of Acer's Smart Handheld Business Group, at a news conference in Taipei on Tuesday.

The company needs a 6 percent or 7 percent share of the smartphone market to reach that goal, he said, adding that Acer will have to ship about 20 million units in 2012 to meet the target.

De Lencquesaing believes success hinges on a strategy of offering compelling products, working hard on the company's user interface, making full use of Acer's brand and market reach, and strong research and development.

The task won't be easy. Acer faces a number of competitors in the industry, from incumbent mobile phone makers such as Nokia and Samsung Electronics, which already own the lion's share of the smartphone market, to popular newcomers like Apple, which dove into the smartphones with products people love and rivals imitate.

"When people ask me why Acer wants to be in the smartphone business, I say because mobility is in our DNA. We're number one in netbooks," said Roger Yuen, vice president of Acer's Smart Handheld Business Group in the Asia Pacific.

Overall smartphone market growth will be an aid for the company. Despite slumping demand for mobile phones caused by the global recession, the smartphone business is booming.

Market researcher Ovum predicts a growing wave of people replacing 2G (second generation mobile telecommunications) handsets with 3G smartphones along with the development of new smartphone software applications will push the market to grow 18.7 percent year-over-year in 2009, followed by growth at a 19.5 percent annual rate until 2014, when the market reaches 406.7 million units.

Market researcher iSuppli predicts smartphone shipments will grow 11.1 percent to 192.3 million units in 2009, up from 173.6 million last year.

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