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Acer has smartphone on deck

The Taiwanese PC maker says in an investor relations conference that it is planning on making its first smartphone by the end of the year or early 2009.

Up-and-coming PC maker Acer is shifting its lineup a bit.

At its first-quarter investor relations conference in Taipei on Wednesday, Acer President Gianfranco Lanci said the company would release its first smartphone--a Windows Mobile device--by the end of this year or early next year, and that smartphones will account for 10 percent of company revenue.

Glofiish smartphone
Acer: Smartphone is due in the next year. E-Ten

Acer made its interest in the smartphone market very clear in March, when it purchased fellow Taiwanese company E-Ten, which makes smartphones under the Glofiish brand.

At the conference, Acer said E-Ten would shift entirely to smartphones and away from PDAs, which it has sold in the past. In another change, the new Acer smartphone will be sold through wireless carriers, instead of directly to retail, as E-Ten has historically done.

Acer has played catchup to its PC rivals this past year, growing organically as well as through acquisition. The company bought U.S.-based Gateway and Europe's Packard Bell, and now finds itself behind No. 2 Dell with 9 percent of worldwide market share, according to IDC.

But will Acer be able to stir up the smartphone industry the way it has PCs? It's obviously not impossible for a new smartphone maker to enter the market and quickly scoop up share (hello, iPhone), but Acer is obviously no Apple. It doesn't have the same marketing machine or demonstrated design chops. But it doesn't have to make the next iPhone to find success. Betting on the evolution of mobile computing from laptops to a smart device like a phone is a no-brainer at this point.