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Acer CEO: Digital home up for grabs

Stan Shih, chief of the Asian computer giant, says TVs need to get smarter and PCs need to get dumber as they look to KO each other in the battle to be king of the connected living room.

TAIPEI, Taiwan--The battle for future living room supremacy between PC makers and consumer electronics companies is far from being decided, says Stan Shih.

In his keynote address at the Computex trade show here this week, the chairman and CEO of Asian computer giant Acer highlighted the ongoing debate over whether the television or PC will emerge victorious as the nerve center for future digital entertainment.

Computer makers such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard and software behemoth Microsoft envision the PC--with its ability to handle video recording, movie streaming, wireless transmission of music and other tasks--to be the central console for the digital home. Not to be outdone, consumer electronics companies such as Sony are adding connectivity options and hard-disk-based digital recording features to their next-generation TVs.

"The TV has been the hub of home audio-video devices for a long time but lacks innovation, while home PCs are becoming increasingly popular but are still considered too complex for all the family members to use, and are unreliable," he said.

According to Shih, both PC makers and consumer electronics companies must improve their current offerings to better vie for a share of the digital home spoils.

For example, audio and video equipment needs to be digitized and be able to connect to a central media and network management center, while the usability and reliability of PCs must be enhanced, he said.

"Hence, both consumer electronics and PC companies have the potential to capitalize on the current opportunities," Shih said.

At the event, the 60-year-old CEO was also honored in a special ceremony for his contributions to the local technology industry.

Shih, who is one of Acer's founders and helped shape the Computex trade show 20 years back, is set to retire by the end of 2004.

Acer's current president, J.T. Wang, will take over the CEO reins next year.

Winston Chai of CNETAsia reported from Taipei.