Acer breaks $1000 notebook barrier with retailers

Acer has broken the $1000 price point with its Extensa 2355XC notebook but will only offer the model through OfficeWorks and BigW. The news has drawn a mixed reaction from its wider IT channel.

Explaining the decision not to make the model widely available, Acer marketing director, Raymond Vardanega, said it all came down to end-user targeting.

"It is certainly the case that we offer different models to different channels, but we still offer an equivalent value product to all of our business channel partners," he said. "You really need to consider that certain products are more suitable for certain markets than others."

But Queensland-based reseller buying group, Computer Australia, suggested the new model indicated a change in strategy.

General manager, David Wu, said it was evidence of increased mass merchant pressure on Acer.

"Many IT vendors claim they push products to the mass merchants in order to obtain market presence which can help the IT channel," he said. "But the pricing of this notebook should ring alarm bells."

Refuting this, Vardanega pointed out that all vendors offer certain product lines through select partners.

"The inference is that we are not doing the right thing buy our channel partners and I would strongly deny that," he said. "Most retailers would understand the concept of right product for right channel."

Playing down the impact of the announcement, IT Wholesale managing director, Darryl Tucker, said its focus on the professional end of the market meant the new model would not hurt its partners.

"As a price point it is exciting but we are not sure the features will entice people to actually buy it or step up to the next model," he said. "Like with Dell, is it just a price point where people say 'beauty' but actually spend $1300 to get the features they need?"

Agreeing with Tucker, Ingram Micro's product manager for Acer, Julie Vajda, said the effect on its partners would be minimal.

"Although the price breakthrough is psychologically important, we believe the channel can still offer a competitive value for money proposition with other machines," she said.

Acer offers a slightly different model - the TravelMate 2355Lci - through distribution with a recommended retail price of $1199, Vajda said. The product included several higher grade features, such as Windows XP Professional, a 15-inch screen and wireless networking functionality.

With more sub-$1000 notebooks sure to follow from other vendors, Tucker said the greatest impact would be felt by other mass merchants.

- For more on this story, see this week's edition of ARN.

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