It's already been learned that Lenovo Group eyes a major smartphone push into the U.S. in 2014. Now we're learning via interviews, leaks, and rumors that two other top Asian personal computer OEMs -- ASUSTek and Acer -- have ambitious smartphone plans of their own.
After testing the waters tenative with the Acer Allegro -- a low volume, low end Windows Phone released back in Jan. 2012 -- Acer is rumored to be getting more serious about small mobile form factors, looking to push out a premium Windows Phone 8.1 handset in early 2014.
The plan was leaked via a slide published by Tweakers.net, a German tech/leaks site.
Both Acer and ASUSTek are key proponents of Windows 8 tablet and hybrid (tablet-cum-laptop) devices. Both companies were hurt by the icy consumer reception of Windows 8, and the resulting slump in sales. But both companies are hopeful that Microsoft's new mobile-centric direction will be honed with Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1. Schedule for release in time for the holiday season, the OS duo promises to polish the rough edges of their predecessors.
Why is Acer waiting to H1 2014 to release its Windows Phone Blue handset?
There appears to be couple reasons. First, the slide suggest that it's looking to build "a unique experience" across Microsoft PC and mobile operating systems. That suggests it may be looking to add its own user interface tweaks and/or proprietary apps/app stores.
Secondly, Acer is a strong supporter of Intel and critic of Windows RT (the ARM-compatible variant of Windows 8). Coincidentally, Intel's 22 nm, quad-core Atom smartphone chips (core: Silvermont; SoC: ValleyView; chipset: Bay Trail) likely won't hit mass production until early 2014. Note that the same phrase "stratregic play" appears in the Windows Phone and Intel Atom sections of the slide.
Acer's slides do suggest new tablets/phablets with Qualcomm and MediaTek (ARM) processors are in the works as well, but those will most likely be directed at the company's Android offerings, which are also mentioned in the slide.
Meanwhile ASUSTek, who is vying with South Korea's Samsung for second place in the tablet market, is already seeing strong sales of its Padfone lineup in Asia. It hopes to bring the phablet (tablet-cum-phone) devices to the U.S. market in 2014 as well, according to some sources. No Windows Phone 8.1 devices have been announced yet for the OEM, who traditionally has used Android, however, it would be unsuprising to see ASUS make a Windows Phone 8.1 "strategic play" of its own, to hedge its bets.
Thus far Nokia Oyj has enjoyed a minor sales resurgence as the only major player to aggressively market and promote premium Windows Phone devices. That could soon changes as the Taiwanese OEM Acer (and possibly ASUS) put out product.