The Acer Group is a Taiwanese computer company headquartered in Taipei. It was founded in 1976 by Stan Shih, who is now Honorary Chairman of the company, under the name Multitech and received its current name in 1987 (after the Latin word acer for fiery/hot/hard/sharp). Acer manufactures PCs – notebooks, smartphones, tablets, desktops, servers – as well as monitors, LCD televisions, media centres, projectors and wearables. The target groups of the products are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs or SOHO) as well as private customers.
With 7161 employees (as of March 2015), Acer is active in over 100 countries in the areas of sales, marketing and services. Sales are carried out exclusively via trading partners (so-called “indirect channel model”). Acer’s German and European sales model has thus been introduced worldwide in recent years.
The company’s shares are traded on the Taiwan Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange and are included in TAIEX.
Acer was founded on August 1, 1976 under the name Multitech by Stan Shih, his wife Carolyn Yeh and five other business partners with a starting capital of $25,000 and 11 employees as a distributor of spare parts for electronic equipment and as a microprocessor consultant. In the same year, the first own production facility was established in Taiwan, which manufactured training systems for microprocessors. In 1977 the annual turnover was 1.6 million, in 1979 4 million and in 1980 8 million US dollars. In 1981, Microprofessor I, the first microprocessor training system under its own brand name, in the form of a book, appeared. Following the example of the Apple II, Multitech launched the home computers Microprofessor II and III in 1982 and 1983.
In 1984, the subsidiary Acer Periphals in Toronto was founded, which was later renamed Acer Communication & Multimedia and manufactured computer peripherals and consumer electronics. In 1987, Multitech changed its name to Acer and was listed on the stock exchange a year later. In 1997, Acer acquired the notebook business of Texas Instruments, including its TravelMate product line, which is still in production today. Acer manufactured devices under its own brand as well as devices for other manufacturers such as IBM (OEM business). In 1998, Acer was the third largest PC manufacturer in the world, while its own brand occupied only eighth place in the global market. In the same year, Acer employed over 40,000 people and operated 12 manufacturing facilities and 39 manufacturing facilities. In 2000, however, the manufacturing business (including contract manufacturing) was spun off as Wistron.
In 2000, before the spin-off of the manufacturing business, Acer achieved sales of $9.9 billion with 35,000 employees in 232 subsidiaries and 41 countries. One year later, Acer Communication & Multimedia was also spun off as BenQ Corporation.
To strengthen the U.S. market, Acer announced on August 27, 2007 that it would acquire Gateway, a PC manufacturer, and Packard Bell and eMachines. Gateway was then the third largest US manufacturer of personal computers. Acer paid $710 million for the acquisition.
In 2013, Acer introduced its first two smartphones “Acer Liquid E1” and “Acer Liquid Z2” at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. In the same year, the company discontinued its eMachines brand, which was used by the group for devices in the lower price segment.
In 2001, Acer sponsored the French Formula 1 Team Prost Grand Prix.
Business development and market position
At the end of 2009, Acer became the second largest PC manufacturer in the world – after HP and before Dell. According to Gartner, Acer took 4th place worldwide in the overall PC market and 2nd place in the notebook segment for 2011 as a whole. According to Oliver Ahrens, head of Acer in Europe, Acer has a market share of around 27 percent in the German overall PC market in 2012.
In 2007, worldwide sales of Acer products amounted to USD 14.07 billion.
For the third quarter of 2008, Acer recorded an increase in sales of over 30 percent compared to 2007 to the equivalent of around 3.8 billion euros. In addition, net income grew to the equivalent of approximately €71.6 million, an increase of 2.7 percent. Acer thus defended its role as the third largest PC manufacturer in the world.
In 2009, Acer Inc. generated revenues of $17.9 billion, an increase of 5% over the previous year.
Acer also reported an increase in revenue for the first three quarters of 2010: Group revenues increased 18% year over year to $15.3 billion. Return on sales reached a record high of 3.16%.
After a high of $19.9 billion in 2010, Acer’s revenues declined steadily until 2014.