The pandemic has made laptops an indispensable tech commodity: Harish Kohli, president & MD, Acer India

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June 28, 2021 1:40 AM

Though some of these shifts are no doubt temporary, some are potentially long-term. As society moves beyond the survival mode, the digital adoption drive is likely to carry forward and become permanent and consumers making a more considered decision.

Harish Kohli, president & MD, Acer India

The Indian PC market (desktops, notebooks and workstations) continued its growth streak with shipments up 73.1% year-on-year in Q1 21 (January-March), according to new data from IDC. “Now, more than ever, the importance of the PC is clear. Learning from the living room, running businesses remotely or gaming, so many of us have turned to our PCs to keep our lives moving,” Harish Kohli, president & MD, Acer India, tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interview. Excerpts:

The PC market has hit an all-time high, driven by pandemic-related buying. What changes do you see in consumer buying patterns owing to this pandemic?
Covid-19 has changed everything we knew about consumer purchase patterns. Though some of these shifts are no doubt temporary, some are potentially long-term. As society moves beyond the survival mode, the digital adoption drive is likely to carry forward and become permanent and consumers making a more considered decision.

Now, more than ever, the importance of the PC is clear. Learning from the living room, running businesses remotely or gaming, so many of us have turned to our PCs to keep our lives moving. When it comes to shopping behaviour, while online is here to stay, the physical stores still have a huge role to play in a market like India. Acer is committed to expand its exclusive stores in India to 200 while investing significantly in retail. What we will see is a hybrid omni-channel way of doing business by harnessing the power of technology such as augmented reality, AI and connectivity.

What is the growth rate witnessed by Acer in laptop and desktop segments in India during Covid?
The growing demand due to changing consumer behaviour and increasing needs across various consumer segments has driven the growth of the laptop market in India. Since laptops became an indispensable technology commodity due to the pandemic our consumer laptop business saw close to 2X growth fuelled by stay-at-home requirements. Moreover, the demand for tablets also saw a renewed spike in education and content consumption. We also witnessed growth in commercial desktops, and combined with the consumer desktops we had a 22% market share. The phenomenal growth in the consumer PC space helped to balance the shortfall of government and other commercial projects which was put on hold due to the pandemic.

Due to the extended work from home policy and learn from home, do you see it evolving as its own category in a few years?
The Covid-19 outbreak led to the largest experiment of remote working worldwide. This new way of working remotely has increased organisations’ need for customisable, modern IT solutions to be arranged at scale. If you look at the work from home scenario, data security becomes very key as you are connected to home networks. Our business laptops come with advanced security features which help to alleviate this to a large extent. We have also launched monitors with an in-built webcam and speakers to make virtual meetings more convenient. Other features we are incorporating are related to digital health, especially in the eye-care features which is built-in to our laptops and monitors. We have also launched laptops with anti-microbial solutions so that the laptop is a safe device to work on.

What are the plans in terms of expansion and growth?
We have partnerships with over 2,500 multi-brand outlets where our range of products are sold. We are also planning to expand to 200 exclusive stores this year with multi-million dollar investment. Early 2020, we opened our e-store which serves over 20,000 pincodes. We are also expanding our product lines to categories like true-wireless earbuds for the connected lifestyle, Acerpure Airpurifiers for smart healthy living while our IT hardware + software solutions using our PCs, servers and workstations serve a wide array of business needs across SMB and large enterprises. Our education vertical will play a key role in digitalising the classrooms by partnering governments and private institutions with an array of solutions. We have also launched future-ready laptop with 5G connectivity and we continue to push boundaries in technology.

How is Acer planning to cater to the 5G market?
As 5G, the next generation of mobile broadband, is rolling out soon, it will be an economic driver and would benefit from the expansion of the technology nationwide. That’s why we have launched Acer Spin 7 laptop with 5G connectivity on the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G compute platform which gives Intelligent access to both performance, and long battery life in a thin and light laptop that can be converted to a tablet.

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