updated 01:20 pm EDT, Mon May 9, 2011
Former Acer chief Lanci justifies exi, iPad threat
Acer's forcefully ousted former CEO Gianfranco Lanci used an interview on Monday to defend himself and also issue a warning to those competing with the iPad. He claimed to have recognized the importance of focusing on phones and tablets but to have been hindered by nationalist sentiment at his company. While he wanted to roughly triple the engineer head count to 1,000 to focus on tighter hardware and software integration, the Taiwanese establishment was allegedly worried about "de-Taiwanization," AllThingsD heard, and fired Lanci rather than accept that it needed outside help for PCs and other devices.
"If we want to be in the top three in the next three to five years, we need to be a global company and we need to leverage resources wherever they are," he recalled telling Acer executives.
Acer's fast fall from grace was because it wasn't moving fast enough and didn't get the resources it needed, he said. Lanci was willing to accept that the company could prove him wrong but was also convinced that he could have taken Acer from $20 billion in revenue by the time he left to $30 billion by 2015, when a third of the cash would have come from phones and tablets.
He also issued a warning to other computer builders who, like Acer until recently, didn't understand the iPad and explained that Acer and most other PC builders were failing because they assumed phones and tablets would follow a PC supply chain model. Where Windows PC builders often assume it's just about trading components on volume, phones and tablets hinged on close deals, such as the ones Apple has with LG Display and Samsung.
Much of Acer's failing in the market has been blamed on its management's repeated insistence that tablets were a fad and that it could depend on netbooks for years, deals have played a factor in the success or failure of rivals. ASUS' chronic Eee Pad Transformer manufacturing issues have been unofficially blamed on Apple having made early, long-term deals for displays and other technology that got it the parts it wanted where traditional PC builders like ASUS have had to fight for components or make do with what was available.