Executive Director and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Acer Jason Chen (Jason Chen) in an interview with Denis Samsonov and Kira Altman for Business FM talked about emerging technologies in the PC industry about how to understand the new generation of users and why it is necessary to focus on benefits, not problems.
Four years ago, only leading the company, you said that you want to Acer beyond the personal computer market in the field of portable devices. What do you think now about the Central business Acer? You still perceive yourself as a company manufacturing computers? Do you like to be the CEO of a computer company? Jason Chen: We have been working in the segment of personal computers and will make every effort to keep this market in the long term. However, within our company right now is changing before our very eyes there has been an evolution from the traditional PC to the new devices. Acer will continue to produce personal computers, but we also plan to release many new products, which are already in development. Some people believe that personal computers have become a commodity: all use the same platform, the same operating system, about the same design and so on. What do you think, in this market it is still possible to stand out? And if so, how does it Acer? Jason Chen: You ask the right question to the right person. I started in the industry of semiconductors. Then all the company computers were my customers. They used the same chips: Intel, AMD, Nvidia — only the branding was different. Now I was in their place.
This is now on the market there are two main trends: gaming and mobile solutions. In both cases, the enormous role played by the performance and distribution of heat, because when a semiconductor device is fast, it heats up quickly. Thanks to its experience in semiconductor manufacturing, I know one very important principle: there is a tradeoff between performance and temperature. So we introduced a huge number of innovations and registered nearly 300 patents in the field of refrigeration technology is much more than any other company. In particular, we have developed a cooling system AeroBlade™ 3D metal fans. Fans with metal blades on 45% more efficient compared to plastic counterparts. Due to this, Acer products get a significant advantage in terms of performance.
What technologies will be the main drivers of the industry PC and laptop computer in the foreseeable future? Jason Chen: there are many interesting things, but our task is to find promising technologies, microtrend that will allow us to stand out. Chrome devices, gaming is now more relevant than ever, and to the level of the mainstream, they grew out of niche products. We are closely monitoring the market situation: first find the region in which it is possible to achieve a breakthrough, then appropriate technologies, and evaluate how these solutions fit our brand.
And the most important point is to build a brand. A good example is Predator, focused on hardcore gamers. There is not only to create a product with specific software and sell it under its own brand as a gaming computer. It is important to comply with the spirit and fit into the culture of eSports. Then the product takes off and becomes successful, and with it brand. That’s what happened with Predator, and now when people see the product the Predator, they realize that this device is for gaming.
You understand who the gamers are and what product they want to see. And what about ordinary users? Tell us what you think about the design for them? Jason Chen: I am very demanding person, but I understand that nothing’s perfect. In this case, we can always move to the next stage and to expand the boundaries of the possible.
In any field we should optimize the product to such an extent that people were saying “Wow!”. If the product to “Wow!” does not hold, then it is not good enough. We continue to strive for the best. Twice a year the Acer is holding a global press conference. This April in new York was announced the product lineup for the next season. In September-October at the IFA exhibition in Berlin we will start the line for the festive season — Christmas and New year. All the work of the company adapts to these two key events.
Many will say that Apple is an innovative company. But if you look at the numbers, from the point of view of design and innovation, we are far ahead of Apple. And this despite the fact that early computers Acer belonged to the open category price point — “computers starting price” — so politely called cheap computers. Now the Acer is recognized as the standard of design and innovation.
So you want to win this game? Jason Chen: Of Course. And not only this — in any other game we idea. A good example is the train, we jumped a couple of years ago, gaming computers. Then many said: “It is a small niche”. And now Goldman Sachs has published a study that stated that e — sports is mainstream. Similar situation with Chromebook’AMI. We do 5-6 years. At the beginning of the market Chromebook’s were small, and now it is growing faster than the PC market as a whole. And it looks different depending on the segment — educational, consumer or business. Acer wins in the business segment Chromebook. Due to what? Through our solutions. For example, we have a support service for those who change the operating system and switches to Chrome with this service the user does not need to worry about applications and drivers. It turns out that we contribute to the transformation of the so-called mikrotrend in the mainstream. And if you look to the future, how would you describe the perfect computer for business 2020? Jason Chen: It’s really a protected computer. Of course, performance and design are important, but reliability and safety must be a priority. Moreover, it is not only in the computer — office environment as a whole. Well if it is protected? How many security levels? Is there a standard behaviour management in emergencies and crises? Developed methodology for recovery of lost information? I think this is the most important for computers used in business. Do you study the Millennials and trying to predict what will be their needs in a few years when they are your main buyers? Jason Chen: I’m almost sixty years old man who takes important decisions for the company. But our target audience is Millennials 20-30 years. In order to understand the needs of the young generation, I apply the approach that was used in my previous company, Intel. I have a young assistant that accompanies me to almost every meeting. And it’s not mentoring is a process of mutual learning. For him it is the opportunity to explore my approach to problem solving, decision making, and I’m learning from him to understand how he thinks the younger generation as its representatives feel that they like. The difference with my generation is significant. Moreover, it is believed that every three years there comes a new generation which uses different products and services. Therefore, the assistants change every year. Then they embark on the implementation of risk initiatives, but they always have the opportunity to consult with me. Technology companies regularly release new devices, often disorienting buyers who find it increasingly difficult to make a choice. What do you think about this issue and due to which a single manufacturer can win in such tough competition? Jason Chen: first, our task is to choose the right solutions for customers that they did not press an excess of novelties. Secondly, I was not very concerned about the problems: I realized that the problems are always there, but we have to concentrate on your strengths, the benefits, and not on weaknesses. When I worked in Silicon valley, leading Intel’s Worldwide Service and Marketing, I realized one thing. In conventional Asian family, when a child (and I have two children) brings out the school report card and he has one three, we hire a tutor to do three or four, if possible, even five. But when I spoke with colleagues, they talked about a different approach: they begin to work on a subject that already has five, to make it a five plus. This is necessary because in the future people will be able to use this item to earn a living. If you try, of the three you can do four. But as a foursome to compete with people who have five plus? So, on joining the company I conducted an audit of inventory, to understand what skills we have. Then realized our strengths and weaknesses and focus on strengths. I tried to maximize them to become the best innovative company. Now we are ahead of Apple on innovation and creativity and boosted to the level where they overtake the best of the best. This approach applies to the company, and our way of action.
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