Acer struggles with supply of surprise hit Desknote

Acer has been caught on the back foot by the rapid response to its new hybrid desktop replacement – the Aspire 1700 Desknote. While it is ramping up imports, the company has admitted that even its next shipment won’t cover the back orders already in the channel.

The vendor greatly underestimated the demand for the Desknote, which features a 17-inch TFT screen and weighs in at a hefty 6.4 kilos. While declining to reveal volumes, Acer marketing director, Raymond Vardanega, said the Desknote had “exceeded our forecast by more than 80 per cent.”

“We’ve been rushing new product in, and we were able to fill a vast majority of back orders towards the end of June,” he said. According to Acer’s website, it had no DeskNotes available as of yesterday, but 261 available for despatch within 5 days, and a further 62 available in 10 days.

Acer expected to be on top of back orders by next Friday, as two shipments were due by then, Vardanega said.

“We’ve got stacks of back orders,” marketing manager of Hitech Distribution, David Hein, said.

The South Australian regional distributor had moved about 150 units within a month, “without doing a lot of advertising”, he added.

After supplying the Desknote for just over a month, it had become one of Express Online’s best selling Acer products, Express Online manager, David Gage, said.

“Supply was always going to be an issue – originally they said we could only get access to 10,” Gage said. But he expected incoming shipments from Acer would keep the distributor’s fulfilment on track.

Harvey Norman had jumped on the Desknote bandwagon early, featuring it in its tech guide in mid-May.

The hybrid had been selling similar numbers to Harvey Norman’s normal notebook lines, national product manager, computer hardware, Paul Snell, said.

“Supply has been tighter than we would have liked,” Snell said.

The option of self-configuration via Acer’s website had been “a key reason” for the Desknote’s take-off, according to Vardanega.

“A significant proportion of the sales have been configured products,” he said.

Customers had been ordering configurations with increased CPU, RAM and hard disk drives, Vardanega said. “We have some new specs coming, including DVD burner and wireless, later in August."

Home users seeking a fold-away computer, and power users - including graphic designers and those using CAD or other engineering operations - were amongst the customer targets, he said.

The Desknote was paving the way for a new category, according to Hein. “It will fit a nice little gap for people tossing up the portability of notebooks with the performance of a desktop – it’s the best of both worlds,” he said.

Vardanega said the weighty 6.4kg machine, with 17-inch display, tended to sell itself on viewing.

“When I saw it on paper, I didn’t think it would fly,” he said.

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