Is Acer CEO Jason Chen gambling by banking on BYOC?

Jason Chen Acer BYOC Cloud
Chen stands at the center of Acer's new strategy

Four months into his tenure as Acer CEO and President, Jason Chen has revealed his company vision: to make Acer the personal cloud service for consumers.

Speaking at a press conference in New York City, Chen said Acer's focus will be on providing consumers with a technology platform stored on a localized PC hard drive that will enable consumers to reach all of their data, all of the time, on any device.

Chen has coined his vision, "BYOC" or bring your own cloud, and he said it evolved from research Acer conducted to determine where consumers were storing the majority of their data.

"Cloud is a great concept," Chen said, at the press conference. "But the number one place people keep their data is in their PC hard drive."

Head in the clouds?

Despite a burgeoning market of cloud technologies geared toward the general consumer, namely Amazon Cloud, Apple iCloud and Google Drive, consumers continue to rely on their localized hard drives to store data.

Gartner Research projects only 36% of consumer-owned digital content will be stored in the cloud by 2016. As of last year, 55% of consumers had never used a cloud storage service, and as of two years ago 51% of people said they believed stormy weather could interfere with cloud computing (they were incorrect, in case you were one of the respondents).

Chen said consumers feel safer, more secure and they feel they have more control with data stored on hard drives. "If you can keep your storage under control, in a place that you can feel secure, that will be your own cloud," he said.

However, Acer is willing to gamble on the future of cloud, and more importantly, the willingness of consumers to adopt and regularly use a personal cloud device. The Taiwan-based company is willing to share its platform across brands, by enabling consumers to use the BYOC platform regardless of whether or not the device is Acer-produced.

"All you need is one Acer product," to use Acer's BYOC platform, Chen said.

Liquid Jade and Liquid Leap

Chen joined Acer on January 1, replacing CEO J.T. Wang who resigned after a fiscal year in which the company posted an operating loss of $86.61 billion (around £54 billion, or AU$91.3 billion), and instituted a mandated executive pay cut of 30%. In Chen's first 100 days, he said he has been able to "stabilize the company and get our machine...humming again."

The new Acer is focused on the company's two pillars: core strengths and pursuable opportunities. As Chen explains it, Acer needs to evolve from being a PC company that makes other products into a company focused on continuous consumer connectivity. "Acer is in the PC industry. Many of you know the PC [industry] is not a growing industry. So what do we do?" he asked rhetorically.

Chen said he is looking at the smartphone market in a very similar manner as one would have looked at the PC market twenty years ago when "IBM and a couple of so-called premium brands [were] at the top," he said. "The smartphone industry today is deja vu all over again. We believe if we could apply our strength and the culture we inherited from Acer in the past 37 years to develop technology quickly, in a neat design, at an affordable price, we believe it would be an opportunity for Acer and our customers would appreciate it."

At the event, Acer previewed the July limited edition launch of the Liquid Leap, a 17mm-thick smartband that will act as both a fitness tracker and a smartwatch, and will give consumers text and call notifications.

The company also previewed the Liquid Jade smartphone, which will be generally available in July as well, and it unveiled the Aspire Aspire Switch 10 and the world's first Chromebook with an Intel Core i series processor.