Last week, Razer launched its second gaming smartphone at a splashy gamer-centric event in Hollywood. Aptly named Razer Phone 2, the smartphone brings some of the key elements that differentiates Razer’s gaming devices from everything else in the market. The Razer Phone 2 now features an illuminated logo powered by company’s Chroma RGB lighting solution. But at the heart of it, the Razer Phone 2 is not much different from other premium smartphones in the market.
A gaming laptop or desktop differs from a performance equivalent by offering additional options like overclockable CPU and discrete graphics performance. However, in the case of a gaming smartphone, it gets the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC that also powers other premium flagship smartphones in the market. They also use the same graphics processor, designed by Qualcomm, leaving little or no room for differentiation. Apart from Razer, Asus is the only other brand to introduce a gaming-centric smartphone in the form of ROG Phone but it is yet to start shipping the device. Now, Acer, a company synonymous with gamers, has confirmed that it has no plans to launch Predator-branded gaming smartphones. “At present, we do not have any plans to launch Predator smartphones in India,” Chandrahas Panigrahi, CMO & Consumer Business Head, Acer India told BGR India.
Acer is one of the most popular brand in the gaming industry but its reluctance to launch a gaming smartphone shows the nascent state of the segment. The gaming smartphone makers are lacking a legitimate way to differentiate their product from premium devices sold by brands like Samsung and OnePlus. But, Acer does have other products, which it believes will keep it ticking in the fast-growing gaming industry. We got a chance to catch up with Chandrahas Panigrahi, who revealed the company’s outlook for smartphones among other subjects. Below is a transcript of the interview, edited for clarity:
When can we expect the new Orion and Helios in India?
We have already launched Orion 9000 and Helios 300 in the market, which is being very well received by our customers. Orion 9000 is a desktop of extreme power designed especially for the demanding professional gamer with advanced cooling and game ready features to easily take on any game out there. Acer Helios 300, on the other hand, combines innovative design and unbeatable features, that are sure to delight the gaming enthusiasts. However, the recently launched Orion and Helios series at our global press conference, is expected to hit the Indian market by the end of this month.
Globally, gaming laptops and desktops are preferred devices. Is it the trend in India as well?
The Indian gaming industry has gradually picked up the momentum and today we are seeing demand for gaming PCs which cost much more than the conventional PCs. E-sports and exposure to global gaming events and LAN gaming has enhanced this experience for Indians. The Indian gaming industry has been continuously evolving over the past few years, in terms of availability of better PC hardware for high-end. New form factor and content options like Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) will push the boundaries even higher. In addition to this, the Indian gaming industry has been advancing from casual to serious gamers thus we see a massive scope by reaching out to bulk of untapped gamers across Tier I and Tier II cities. Our range of Nitro and Predator gaming product caters from budding gamers to hard core professional PC gamers.
Do Indians buy gaming laptops over performance notebooks?
The trend is changing and we have definitely seen a surge in the sale of gaming specific devices. At Acer, all our gaming devices are equipped with powerful processors, top-end graphics card, fast storage and ample amounts of RAM with a high definition screen, which makes it an all-rounder. Though the products have been designed from a gamer’s point of view, they can also work for day-to-day tasks and heavy duty applications like photo and video editing which even a performance oriented laptop will struggle to.
Any comment on the Indian PC market?
Yes, we definitely see the momentum going strong in the next couple of years. Specific segments like gaming, thin and light as well as convertibles will see significant upsurge in the Indian market.
Acer was the fourth largest brand in India in Q2 2018. Do you expect to be in the top 3 by the end of this year?
In the last few quarters, Acer has seen some tremendous growth in all its verticals. In the last two quarters, Acer has been the No. 1 gaming brand, and Acer stands at No. 2 in PC monitor segment in the recent quarter. This is a proof of the gradual upward progression we have been witnessing and I am sure that in the next coming quarters we might break into the top 3. Gaming contributed 4 percent to the consumer business of Acer India compared with 1 percent five quarters ago. The contribution from sales of gaming devices is slated to more than double to 10 percent this year.
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Recently, we’ve seen innovations that make PCs cool again. Will this help sales for OEMs like Acer?
Acer is the precursor of innovation. We are always on the lookout for coming up with innovative ways to offer technology to our customers. At the recent global press conference that was held in New York and Computex, the world witnessed few ground breaking products which have not yet been brought to the market. We launched a special Predator laptop for women gamers, which suits their aesthetics. The Predator gaming chair is another innovation of its kind which includes detachable cushions, superior ergonomics, and lumbar spine support to give players an edge on marathon gaming sessions. We at Acer, make sure that the products align with the requirements of our customers, and this acts as a facilitator for increasing sales.
Do you see India as the next growth market from Chromebooks?
We are very optimistic of Chromebook adoption in India, key drivers will be cost advantage over regular devices. With usage of Android based smartphones, users will rely more on cloud resulting in increased acceptance in times to come. As these are light in hardware and data being available on demand, Chromebooks are low on maintenance cost and this will be the key driver for growth specifically in the Education segment. With controls built-in to control type of content can be accessed we expect that there will be a great push from teachers and governments.
When will we see first Always Connected PCs from Acer?
Early this year, we had launched the updated version of Acer Swift 7 globally, making it even thinner than the previous one. At just 8.98 mm thin, the new Swift 7 is an always-connected PC running Windows 10 that’s designed for mobility, with an ultraportable design packing a powerful Intel Core i7 processor, all-day battery life and a personal, trusted 4G LTE connection. The Acer Swift 7’s unmatched slim design is only the beginning of the new features on offer. Blazing-fast, built-in Intel XMM 4G LTE connectivity keeps users productive and always- connected, especially useful for professionals who wish to eliminate tedious wireless connection problems on the road so they can stay focused on the task at hand.
In addition to a Nano SIM card slot, the Swift 7 features eSIM technology, allowing download and activation of eSIM profiles. The Swift 7 ships with a Transatel profile provisioned with up to 1 GB2 of free data valid for one month in 48 countries to help users get started immediately, while additional data plans can be easily purchased as needed through the Mobile Plans application while travelling around the world. 802.11ac wireless with 2×2 MIMO provides reliable and fast connections to the office or home network.
How does Acer view Esports as a segment in India?
Indian mindset is changing and accepting gaming as a profession and not as a distracting hobby for their sons/daughters. E-sports and exposure to global gaming events and LAN gaming is enhancing the gaming experience for Indians. Better Internet bandwidth is also helping. Acer has entered the market at the right time with a range of products under Predator and Nitro series. Our schemes help budding and pro gamers to make the ownership of the product easier with finance schemes, free accessories, extended warranties etc. We are also sponsoring key gaming events in India to enhance awareness.