Acer could block Lenovo's growth in global PC market

Acer could its extend its global PC market share over Lenovo with recent acquisitions, according to Gartner.

A fast growth rate and recent acquisitions in the US and Europe will extend Acer's lead over Lenovo Group as the world's third-largest PC vendor behind HP and Dell, according to a new study released by Gartner.

Acer and Lenovo stood neck-and-neck in global PC shipments with 8.1 per cent and 8 per cent market shares, respectively, in the third quarter of 2007. Before acquisitions, Acer shipped 5.54 million PC units worldwide, a healthy 58 per cent year-over-year increase. The growth rate overshadowed Lenovo, which shipped 5.48 million PCs, a 22.8 per cent increase.

Gartner's quarterly figures were compiled before Acer finished its acquisition of Gateway this week for $US710 million. Acer also funded Gateway's proposed acquisition of European PC vendor, Packard Bell, for an undisclosed sum. That was a blow to Lenovo Group, which in early August revealed it was in discussions with Packard Bell over a possible acquisition.

Packard Bell was largely a European vendor and had a small market share, similar to eMachines in the US before it was acquired by Gateway, managing partner at Averil Capital Markets Groups, Diana Maranon, said. Maranon's company brokered Gateway's Packard Bell acquisition.

An IDC report, also released this week, listed Lenovo as the world's third-largest PC vendor but indicated Acer could overtake Lenovo with its growth rates in the Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia-Pacific markets, excluding Japan. Acer's US PC shipments grew more than 100 per cent during the third quarter, though it could face more pressure from competitors as it continued to expand, IDC said.

In the US, Acer replicated the business strategy that made it highly successful in Europe: de-emphasise retail, sell through indirect channels, and offer low, competitive prices, founder and president of Endpoint Technologies Associates, Roger Kay, said. Acer stood at the low end in the US market, and the Gateway acquisition gave it a good position in the middle and high-end markets, Kay said.

Gateway's worldwide shipments increased 8 per cent in the third quarter, though US shipments fell 14.4 year-over-year, Gartner said.

Acer's global growth strategy was paying dividends and could affect Lenovo in the US and Europe, Kay said.

The Packard Bell acquisition was a defensive move for Acer to ensure Lenovo didn't get a toehold in the European market, Kay said. Acer was already one of the top notebook sellers in Europe.

Lenovo showed positive growth in global markets, but Acer's acquisitions blocked Lenovo from acquiring some valuable shelf space for product distribution, managing vice-president at Gartner, Charles Smulders, said in an email interview.

Lenovo could not be reached for comment.

Global PC shipments during the third quarter were 68.4 million, driven by high demand for laptops in the home market, Gartner said. HP was the world's top PC vendor, with 12.8 million units shipped, a 18.8 per cent market share, and 33.1 per cent year-over-year volume growth. Dell followed with a 14.4 per cent market share, shipping 9.86 million units, a 3.5 per cent increase.

The survey includes desktop PCs, laptops and x86 servers.

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