A recurring theme in the tech industry is that sometimes you have to look backwards in order to move forward. Apple did it when Steve Jobs came back to lead the Cupertino company into a new era of unprecedented riches, Dell's doing it with Michael Dell returning in an attempt to return the No. 3 PC maker back to glory, and now Acer's following the blueprint by bringing in company co-founder Stan Shih after a quarter of record losses.
Apple's iPad doesn't do Flash, we all know that. It also doesn't sport a webcam, USB port, or microSD card slot., to name just a few of its shortcomings. But where the iPad leaves off, several other tablet makers will pick up the slack, presumably starting this holiday shopping season. There's literally some 50 tablet PCs on tap for late 2010 and throughout 2011, and even if just one or two of them get the entire experience right, what will that mean for notebook/netbook sales?
Not much, according to Acer founder Stan Shih. At a forum hosted by the Taiwan government, Shih went on the record saying that tablets aren't going to replace conventional notebooks simple because slates fill a specific niche.
Shih pointed out that analysts voiced similar concerns when netbooks arrived, but rather than replace notebooks, netbooks ended up creating a new market segment alongside them. With the overall notebook market still seeing steady growth, Shih expects the upwards trend to continue even as more tablets begin to flood the market.
If Acer's PR department provided company creator Stan Shih with a canned statement, he didn't read it. Instead, Shih told reporters late last night that Apple products are "mutant viruses" in need of a cure.
Describing the difference in design philosophy between Apple and the PC industry, Shih says Steve Jobs is always looking for a revolutionary product, one which is bound to enjoy short-term success and growth, but eventually will be trumped by the competition. In this way, PC vendors become "immune" to the Apple effect, Shih explains.
To drive the point home, Shih pointed to the competition between Microsoft's Windows and Apple's Mac OS. According to Shih, Windows' "open" platform has allowed Microsoft to attract the majority of PC vendors, while Apple's PC market has turned out to be limited. This, he says, is similar to how the open VHS standard ultimately won out against Sony's Betamax format.
Looking ahead, Shih sees Android playing a big role in PC brands being able to isolate Apple. He also reiterated a previous gloom-and-doom prediction that U.S. based PC vendors will eventually ditch the PC market as profits from PC products fall lower and lower.