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Acer unveils smartphone range and lofty goals

Acer wants to be a top five player in the smartphone market within the next five years.

Acer M900

Acer announced its entry into the smartphone market today with four new handsets, and promised to release at least six more by the end of the year.

All four handsets today are based on Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system, but others coming later in the year will feature Windows Mobile 6.5 said Aymar de Lencquesaing, president of Acer's smart handheld group.

However, he refused to rule out the possibility of Acer releasing phones based on other platforms, such as Google's Android, later in the year.

Lencquesaing revealed that based on the company's research, Acer was confident it could from a standing start become a top five player in the smartphone market within the next five years. "We know there are four billion mobile subscribers our there, but 3.5 billion have yet to make the move to smartphones," he said. "This market will clearly grow aggressively. Our ambition is to become a leader in the smartphone market."

When asked by IT PRO what differentiated its handsets from the rest of the Windows Mobile crowd, Lencquesaing said that synchronisation between devices was key and that Acer would announce more plans later in the year, hinting at cloud based services. He also refereed to the next version of Acer's home grown UI, appearing on the forthcoming Windows Mobile 6.5 devices would be game changing'.

Of the four devices on show though, none would really get the pulse racing. The flagship is the M900 featuring a 3.8in WVGA display and a slide out keyboard. It's HSDPA compatible and has a Mobile Office on it. It also well equipped with GPS, FM radio, a voice recorder and a five-megapixel camera with autofocus and flash. Enterprises will appreciate that data can also be protected via a fingerprint reader.

The F900 also has a 3.8in WVGA screen but eschews the slide out keyboard for a touch-screen only approach.

It also features GPS, FM radio, and a voice recorder, but has to make do with a three-megapixel camera but does have a microSD card slot. The highlight is a widget-based interface that Acer claimed will offer quick access to key functions.

The X960 shrinks the display down to 2.6in and standard VGA but has a front camera for the little used video calling. A standout feature is that the popular third-party SPBShell is preinstalled as an enhanced interface.

Finally, there's the dual SIM DX900, which enables business people to place two SIM cards in the phone at the same time perfect for true global coverage or dividing between personal and business numbers on the fly.

Acer said prices for the handsets would range between 299 (266) and 449 (400).

The DX900 was revealed last month when it appeared on a UK e-tailer's web site.

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