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Acer pushes Gateway back into Europe

Direct brand reborn as SME channel sell

The Acer Gateway Professional (AGP) notebook and desktop products are available now with the servers coming in a few weeks time. The systems only run Windows Professional and not Vista's various consumer manifestations. Linux is also available. O'Donoghue said that blade servers were on the roadmap. They would fit into a Gateway-designed and built chassis and not into IBM or HP blade chassis.

This is a big deal that might not happen. Acer doesn't currently build blade servers or a chassis to rack 'em into. Blade servers and chassis tend to be an enterprise sell, yet Acer has no enterprise sales force or product line. Blade servers are certainly not a retail sell so it sees the Gateway Professional channel as the way to offer blade servers to mid-sized businesses in EMEA if the dealers say they can sell 'em.

Think on this for the moment; there is no AGP channel currently; there are no dealers to say, yes, there is a blade market. Even if there were Acer would want a track record of sales through them before believing assertions that there really is a blade server market satisfiable by a VAR channel. So don't hold your breath waiting for Acer blade servers.

The same calculation applies to any AGP NAS product. The servers have their own direct-attached storage but no shared storage. Again Acer's going to wait for a while before seeing if getting into the shared storage market is worthwhile.

AGP will have a data centre in London providing remote hardware and software monitoring of AGP systems sold by the dealers. This will take care of patch management, etc, with reports per customer available for dealers, which they brand and deliver to their customers as their service. That's neat. Dealers could love that, and the additional margin and recurring revenue. They could look at this and say: "What the Dell", and walk away from their Round Rock supplier or their HP one.

Acer says the mid-sized business market is composed of thousands of vertical markets and it will look to encourage bundling or availability of its products with specific applications in the bigger segments. Sales Force Automation was supplied as an example.

So ... here we have the world's number 3 PC supplier flexing its newly-acquired muscles and entering a new market segment in EMEA with a new brand, new products and new dealer channel that is still being established and, by the way, in the middle of a recession that could deepen into - well, we don't want to go there. Yet, it's Acer, and it has its track record, and it's jumped into netbooks and become their leading supplier. When Acer asserts its ambition it seems to achieve its aims. ®

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