Acer CEO: Microsoft's Surface tablet threatens its long-time PC partners

A rift is growing between Microsoft and its long-time PC partners who are upset over the software giant’s decision to make its own tablet, the Surface, which goes on sale later this month, said Acer CEO JT Wang in an exclusive interview.

“They are doing something to kill the whole ecosystem,” Wang said of the decades-long partnership between the PC makers like his Taipei-based company and Microsoft. The Surface will compete with Acer’s Iconia tablet.

“They have all this cash,” he said. “They could kill everybody.”

As of June 30, Microsoft had some $63 billion in cash and cash equivalents.

PC makers such as Acer, Hewlett-Packard and Dell have long used Microsoft’s Windows operating system as the software platform on which to build their machines. All parties benefited greatly from the arrangement, which led to lower computer prices and the global spread of Microsoft’s software, making it the world’s dominant PC software maker.

The rise of smartphones and tablets — a movement led by Apple with its iPhones and iPads — has shaken the global PC market. In July, Microsoft reported its first quarterly income loss. Now the company is jumping into the tablet market with Surface.

“Maybe they think they need to do something aggressive to compete with Apple and not rely on brands like Acer,” Wang said as he arrived at San Francisco International Airport from Taipei on EVA Air Wednesday afternoon. “It is a dilemma.”

There are now three competing computer ecosystems — Apple’s Macintosh and iOS, Android and Microsoft’s Windows — Wang said.

“This is a new paradigm,” he said. “It is unique in 30 years of PC history.”

(photo by the Associated Press)

John Boudreau John Boudreau (79 Posts)

I cover the intersection of Silicon Valley and Asia.