Acer to launch Win 8 tablets with smaller screens this year

Emmanuel Fromont, Acer president for the Pan America region, tells CNET that such devices will have screens smaller than 10 inches and will cost less than $400.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
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The Acer Iconia A1, unveiled Friday, features a 7.9-inch screen and runs Android. Similar Windows 8 devices may hit the market later this year. Sarah Tew/CNET
Acer plans to launch Windows 8 tablets with smaller screen sizes in the second half of the year, an executive said Friday.

Such devices will feature touch screens smaller than 10 inches, Emmanuel Fromont, Acer president for the Pan America region, and Sumit Agnihotry, Acer vice president of product marketing, told CNET in an interview following an Acer product launch event in New York.

They likely will cost below $400 -- the typical entry point for Windows tablets today -- and will be pushed as productivity devices that link to the traditional PC world more easily than Android devices, the executives said.

"Clearly, it will enable a price point that's more attractive," Fromont said. "Users don't have that need or feeling they have to pay for high-end tablets. [Smaller screen sizes] will afford the price point people have in mind when they purchase tablets."

The executives declined to provide specific information about the future products.

Acer earlier Friday unveiled three new products, two touch-screen Windows 8 notebooks and an Android tablet. The company has worked to spur demand for its products as it grapples with a weak PC market.

Acer has suffered even more than some of its rivals largely because it lost its big bet on Netbooks. The downturn in that segment has led to steep shipment declines in recent periods, with Acer's first-quarter global PC shipments dropping 31 percent from the previous year, according to IDC. The company has been betting on new lower-priced, touch-based Windows 8 devices to boost its results, as well as tablets running other operating systems like Android.

The company expects demand for PCs to be stronger in the second half of the year than the first as more touch-screen devices hit the market, Fromont said. Nearly half of Acer's U.S. notebooks for the back-to-school season will feature touch screens, he said, up from a current level of 30 percent. And that percentage should go even higher in coming periods, to 70 percent to 80 percent, Fromont said.

"We believe the second half will not be a hugely growing market but will be better for sure," he said.