Acer returning to U.S. server market

Taiwanese computer giant to manufacture servers in U.S.

Acer, the No. 4 PC maker in the U.S., has released a line of servers and storage products for this market.

The launch marks the company's return, or reinvestment, in the U.S. as a server vendor. Acer sells consumer PCs and related devices under its own name, as well under Gateway, eMachines, and Packard Bell brands.

It had previously sold servers in the U.S., but it let that business diminish over the past few years. The company said it has made a major investment in this market.

It said it has expanded its support and service capabilities, and will manufacturer its server products in the U.S. through third-party makers.

"I want to make sure that we can we build very, very quickly and deliver much faster than everyone else," said Todd Mottershead, senior manager for servers and storage at Acer.

IDC ranked Acer No. 3 worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2010, following Hewlett Packard and Dell . In the U.S., Acer is the fourth largest vendor; HP has 28.6 per cent of the U.S. market; Dell about 22 per cent; Toshiba, about 10 per cent; and Acer nine per cent.

Acer has been selling servers outside the U.S.

For its U.S. reintroduction, Acer has released a tower rack, blade system, and systems especially designed for cloud computing, all with a number of configurations, as well as network attached storage products. Prices range from $721 for a tower to $10,499, for storage. Acer will be selling through channel partners.

"These are not cheap servers, and they won't be priced cheaply, but they will be very competitive with the offering from others," Mottershead said.

But one area Acer believes it will be especially competitive will be in "option kits," or additional hard drives, memory, and other components. Mottershead claims that its option pricing will be very aggressive, at 40 per cent below what competitors are charging.

Roger Kay, and analysts at Endpoint Technologies, said Acer will be going after the small- and medium-size business market, and perhaps education.

As far as Acer's plan for reducing component option prices goes, Kay says what that means is the company is "going to undercut their competitors on total package [server plus options] but they also have to sell that message to their buyers."

"I think they have a chance -- their strategy is pretty focused, so they are not wasting their energy even as they invest quite a lot," Kay said. "It will be a very high-profile, high-risk endeavor -- if it plays out I think they will do well."

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