With more than 20 years’ experience in the IT industry, Andrew Hou was appointed the president of Acer’s Pan Asia Pacific Regional Operations in March 2016. Prior to this, Hou served as the general manager of Acer’s Stationary Computing Business Unit in 2013, overseeing he desktop PC product line. Hou has a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Syracuse University in the United States, and a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Information Engineering from the Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan.
Andrew brought a wave of energy to the brand and its consumer interactions by launching ‘Acer Day’ in 2017, which is celebrated on 3rd August. According to Hou, that “eighty-third” (Aug 3rd) sounds similar to the enunciation of “Acer”. Not only this, he has kickstarted the Predator gaming line and within two years it has successfully reached the first place in several countries. In conversation with Exhibit, Andrew Hou shared his views on PC gaming, the gaming scene in India and much more.
EXHIBIT: Acer seems to be doing and playing very well on the Indian market?
Andrew Hou: In India as of 2018, Acer has been doing very well in both commercial and consumer sections. Over 10% growth in the consumer sector and about 6% to 8% commercial growth is being reported consistently every year. This report includes the growth in the gaming market as well.
EXHIBIT: How will you describe Indian gaming vs. Acer’s overall gaming ecosystem?
Andrew Hou: Acer turned 43 this year. About 3 years back, a survey was carried out in various countries. The conclusion that we came to know, had two very important results among many.
One is that the 40 years in the digital market, is an experience that people trust and believes in very strongly. And, secondly, Acer is very affordable. The pricing combined with the quality of the product made Acer the success story it is.
Our main goal was to change the image we created, but 40 years of face value was a very tough image to change. It was during this time, the potential of Gaming started to grow exponentially. So, we decided to change the name of the Acer’s gaming ecosystem. That was how Predator came into existence.
The gaming industry’s generated revenue is almost 2.5 times more than the last year The gaming industry’s generated revenue is almost 2.5 times more than the last year alone. And surprisingly Wfor India, the generated revenue is 3 times more.
That is why I said that Gaming now is no more a simple product based industry; it is more of a complete ecosystem in itself. It is not limited to a simple box now. There are gamers and their trainers and coaches also who are skilled professionals. There are live streaming and podcasting.
EXHIBIT: What’s the share ofAcer’ss other business as compared to other brands market share?
Andrew Hou: Quarter 1 to Quarter 3 in 2018, Acer had a 32.8% of the overall share of the gaming market in India. The second best was quite far in the list. In India, the last year has been extremely profitable as we collaborated with Flipkart for the retail and distribution aspect.
To promote it further, a Premier League was organized at Mumbai and over 5000 people had come in to cheer and see the competition. The basic concept was to invite more non-gamers to come and have an idea, what gaming is all about.
EXHIBIT: How volatile is the gaming business environment?
Andrew Hou: On a global scale the market consists of about 15% of Gaming notebooks but sadly in the case of India, it holds only 4% of the total market. So, India has a very long way to go as of now. There is room for potentially large growth in the next few years for sure.
EXHIBIT: Is it not a new trend which happens elsewhere?
Andrew Hou: In India, consumers prefer to go for the cheaper variants for generic laptops but that is not the case for Gaming notebooks. People want to pay more for the sheer experience alone.
The reason for that is, when one is playing a game, no one wants to get stuck or lose out because of hardware issues, so there is no option other than the best. The reason for the DIY customization was exactly that.
You definitely want certain specs that can make the experience worth. That was why Predator was created. Performance is what the main criteria for a gamer are and he is ready to pay for it.
Predator launched the top of the line variant with 21 inch HD screen last year, that was extremely expensive and priced at 7 Lakh INR. Surprisingly the entire set number of units issued were all sold out. Some even were ready to pay well in advance for them.
It is not about the price for gamers located anywhere. It is more of a decision based on the specification of the notebook.
EXHIBIT: Are the consumers same everywhere or they are different in their choices?
Andrew Hou: Basic desire is same in all the countries. But, small things are different. India is progressing towards it gradually.
India is quite similar to China in many ways, especially the population and growth pattern. Singapore and Taiwan might be well developed but they are very small countries.
E-commerce is very advanced in other countries. China accounts for 40% e-commerce for electronic goods alone. India is still at below 20% but it is similar to what China was about 6 years back. Singapore also has only 15% e-commerce business while in Taiwan, it is about 25%.
However, the pattern of business is different. In countries like Taiwan and Singapore, they even have 3 to 4 hours delivery time. India is more about touch and feels and negotiates, so the e-commerce market will need a bit more time.
Even in Hong Kong, people prefer buying from the market because the country is smaller and everything is right at the doorstep. There is no need to take time and travel elsewhere or wait for a few hours for delivery.
EXHIBIT: Tell us some common misconceptions people have about gaming?
Andrew Hou: As far as India is concerned, in regards to Gaming misconceptions, many believe that India is not a gaming market because Indian parents like their children to study rather than waste their time playing games, as they say. Gaming is not an accepted norm in India both professionally and personally. It turned out to be a very big misconception.
Globally if you look at it, it is an accepted norm that you cannot make a career out of gaming. That can be easily seen if you carefully observe the profile of the consumers.
A Gamer profile is hugely different than a normal profile. In fact, in countries like the Philippines and Taiwan, gaming zones are not simply about games. They have eateries along. Some restaurants are modified in that way, where Gaming is a part of its design.
The entire concept is different. The single haul in these eateries have over 100 of gaming systems, so it works both ways as a food joint and a gaming one too. They have gaming units consisting of Acer gaming hardware, that was very surprising news.
This thing still needs to develop in India, but children are already well aware of it and it will be here soon for sure.
EXHIBIT: Console gaming, laptop gaming vs. Smartphone gaming, which is the best? will pc gaming come up with something for mobile gaming as well?
Andrew Hou: Console gaming is going down fast while Mobile gaming is going up way faster. While in the case of Notebook gaming, the position is fixed.
So keeping that in mind, we can say that PC gaming is more about improvising the gaming skill. Predator is exactly that, a professional gamers’ unit. Mobile gaming is more of a casual scene where you do not time yourself or think of improvisation or improvement of gaming skills. You are more of just passing the time.
Mobile gaming is not exactly for the same purpose, even thus the comparison cannot be very well answered.
EXHIBIT: How do you think the gaming forAcerr will pan out by 2020 and 2025. do you think it will take the Lions share and mindset?
Andrew Hou: PC Gaming will be at 25 to 30%. At the most in the next couple of years. If you are talking figuratively, it all depends on the device, the competitions, the game titles, the broadcasters and live streaming. However, an easy 20% growth is expected.
Reality is that Acer is still on the lookout for the Ronaldo and Messi of Gaming world but it all depends on few factors. There are parental acceptances firstly; 4G connectivity for the second point, and finally the third is the ability to encapsulate you to remain within the virtual world instead of moving to the real world i.e. a better Virtual reality.