Acer, Asus Eyeing Wearable Devices in 2014: Reports

By Jeffrey Burt

Acer and Asus reportedly are getting ready to jump into the growing wearable computing market later this year.

Acer officials have been talking about getting into the space since last year, and Taiwan's Central News Agency, citing an anonymous source within the company, is reporting this week that the PC maker has plans to enter the market in the second half of 2014 with a "distinctive" device, though no details were mentioned.

At the same time, Asus Chairman Jonney Shih reportedly said during the company's year-end party this week that Asus this year will roll out a smartwatch, which would be the company's first offering in the wearable device space.

"We will put our entire design thought into it," Shih told reporters at the event, according to the Central News Agency. "There are actually many challenges in this area, and I don't think products that lack special features will be useful. We'll try to replace your watch by all means."

Wearable computing devices to this point have been defined by such products as Google Glass, smartwatches by the likes of Samsung and Sony, and various other devices that perform such tasks as monitoring a user's health and fitness indicators. Industry observers expect the market to grow over the next few years. Juniper Research analysts last year said shipments of devices will grow tenfold by the end of 2018, reaching 150 million units.

The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month was a hotbed of new and proposed wearable devices, from smartwatches and other wrist products to headsets.

For Acer, which has been undergoing significant executive upheaval following disappointing financial numbers for the last couple of years, moving into the wearable device space can be another possible avenue for raising much-needed revenues. Over the past few months, the company has seen both its CEO and president resign, its founder return to the board chairman seat and the installation of a new chief executive.

Acer also is pursuing a restructuring plan that includes cutting 7 percent of its workforce in hopes of saving $100 million in expenses and creating the Transformation Advisory Committee, which will propose changes in company operations to the board of directors.

How Acer may enter the wearable device space isn't clear. The company source said while smartwatches and smart headsets have been most prominent, those form factors "are not the only options" for Acer. There is some speculation about a necklace that would include body temperature sensors and would be paired with a smartphone or work independently.

Asus officials also have been talking about jumping into the wearable device space. They reportedly told investors in November 2013 that the company is planning to launch such products at the upcoming Computex 2014 conference in Taiwan in June.


This article was originally published on 2014-01-31