SmartHouse - - FEATURE - Writ­ten by David Richards

Tai­wanese Com­pany Acer who are one of the world’s lead­ing tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies and a ma­jor sup­plier of PCs to Aus­tralian schools is set to take a gi­ant step to a whole new world that will be dom­i­nated by con­nected de­vices and Smart Cities.

Ear­lier to­day I met up with Stan Shih the founder of Acer, he be­lieves that Tai­wan is ready to take on Sil­i­con Val­ley and that Tai­wan is al­ready in a strong po­si­tion to be­come the new Sil­i­con Val­ley of Asia which is the fu­ture is for IoT or tech­nol­ogy de­vices.

He also be­lieves that gov­ern­ments who are tip­ping bil­lions into new in­fra­struc­ture and hous­ing can ben­e­fit from new tech­nol­ogy now com­ing out of Tai­wan.

A die hard vi­sion­ary Shih is one of the men who has shaped tech­nol­ogy as we know it to­day and his vi­sion for Smart Cities is now well on the agenda of Gov­ern­ments, Pri­vate In­vestors and tech­nol­o­gists.

Ad­dress­ing a 40th An­niver­sary con­fer­ence in Taipei, Shih said that Acer still had a lot to learn despite be­ing a dom­i­nant man­u­fac­turer of hard­ware.

Their abil­ity as a PC man­u­fac­turer was no more ev­i­dent when I was given hands on look at the new Swift 7 which is the thinnest lap­top in the world, at just 0.99 cen­time­tres, despite its size it still man­ages to crank out bat­tery life up to seven hours.

Then there is Acer’s new 8 Kilo, Preda­tor 21 X which is a mon­ster. Not only have this ma­chine’s de­sign­ers put a curved 21-inch dis­play on a note­book for the first time ever, they’ve also gone and given it two GeForce GTX 1080 GPUs as well.

Add in five cool­ing fans, a 7th-gen­er­a­tion In­tel Core K-series pro­ces­sor, and space for as much as four ter­abytes of SSD stor­age, and you have a lap­top that could well need a fork­lift to get it up to a desk.

Back in 1983 Stan Shih took on IBM when he launched an IBM com­pat­i­ble PC. He then went on to cre­ate com­po­nent Com­pa­nies that sup­ported Acer hard­ware.

He quickly be­came a leg­end among PC man­u­fac­tur­ers.

I first met Stan Shih over din­ner in Las Ve­gas in 1999.

Sit­ting on my ta­ble at a CRN Hall of Fame din­ner was Bill Gates, Charles Geschke and John Warnock the founders of Adobe and Stan Shih, af­ter a speech by the founders of Palm Com­put­ing Shih who at the time was man­u­fac­tur­ing prod­ucts for the en­ter­prise and B2B mar­kets, turned around to me and said “It is time that we look at the con­sumer PC mar­ket”.

18 months later I was in­vited to Tai­wan for the launch of a new Com­pany called BenQ which was Acer’s go to mar­ket Com­pany for con­sumer PC prod­ucts.

The CEO and co-founder of the Acer Group, Shih was re­spon­si­ble for build­ing up one of the world’s big­gest com­puter and pe­riph­eral mak­ers while over­see­ing 120 dif­fer­ent busi­nesses with 34,000 em­ploy­ees world­wide.

A na­tive of Tai­wan, Shih is one of the pi­o­neers of the PC busi­ness and at to­day’s event the au­di­to­rium was packed with peo­ple in­clud­ing ex­ec­u­tives from some of the big­gest tech­nol­ogy Com­pa­nies in the world as the master tech­nol­o­gist out­lined his vi­sion for Tai­wan, IoT de­vices and Smart Cities.

In Tai­wan, he is seen the man who helped bring the coun­try’s econ­omy into the mod­ern in­dus­trial age.

His vi­sion ini­tially was to see ev­ery com­puter, no matter the brand, con­tain Acer com­po­nents led the com­pany to a sales re­la­tion­ship with all the top com­puter man­u­fac­tur­ers and the com­pany’s own sta­tus as the third largest com­puter man­u­fac­turer in the world.

He was also the men­tor to ASUS founder CEO Jon­ney Shih (not re­lated).

ASUS was founded by T.H. Tung, Ted Hsu, Wayne Tsiah and M.T. Liao in April 1989. Shih wasn’t part of the found­ing team, but he was still very much in­volved from day one.

When ASUS was first dreamt up there four en­gi­neers who all hap­pened to be work­ing with Acer. Jon­ney Shih had over­seen Acer’s R&D for over 12 years and had worked along­side Stan Shih through both “the good and bad years”.

At the time, Jon­ney was re­port­ing to Stan Shih, the then-chair­man and CEO of Acer. The two Shihs are not re­lated, but young Jon­ney looked up to Stan as his men­tor, so he went to ask for Stan’s bless­ing to let him start a new com­pany.

Stan con­vinced Jon­ney to stay, since Acer wasn’t in great shape — largely due to a down­turn in the US econ­omy at the time.

Still, Jon­ney ended up sup­port­ing the team of en­gi­neers by pro­vid­ing 60 per­cent of their start-up fund­ing, and Stan was fine with that.

Jon­ney Shih didn’t join un­til three years later.

With­out Jon­ney Shih’s di­rect guid­ance, the ASUS co­founders were still able to make a huge break­through.

In its sec­ond year, the start-up beat its lo­cal ri­vals and launched an In­tel 486 moth­er­board around the same time as IBM. But un­like the Amer­i­can gi­ant, ASUS achieved this feat with­out get­ting a pre­view of In­tel’s chip; the en­gi­neers based their moth­er­board de­sign on their un­der­stand­ing of ear­lier chipsets.

Fast-for­ward to 1992: The two Shihs fi­nally got Acer back into shape, but it was quite the op­po­site for ASUS. The com­pany was suf­fer­ing from qual­ity is­sues plus a loss of “sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion” en­gi­neers.

Jon­ney asked Stan once again to let him join ASUS.

See­ing that Acer was in good health, this time Stan gave the go-ahead, un­der the con­di­tion that Jon­ney would take a half-year break be­fore­hand.

In Aus­tralia ASUS is still strug­gling with Acer Aus­tralia the dom­i­nant PC Com­pany across sev­eral mar­kets.

Stan Shih, who is now 72, is still a driv­ing force, but in­stead of PC’s Shih is to­day push­ing smart cities. At to­day’s event Shih urged Tai­wan to­ward fur­ther smart city de­vel­op­ment through col­lab­o­ra­tion with the pri­vate sec­tor.

Dur­ing his in­ter­view with SmartHouse he said that Acer had ma­jor op­por­tu­ni­ties ahead and that by work­ing with Gov­ern­ments and the Pri­vate sec­tor in Coun­tries like Aus­tralia both Tai­wan, Acer and Aus­tralia could ben­e­fit from iOT in­no­va­tion.

Shih urged the Tai­wanese Gov­ern­ment to fos­ter more smart city projects by fully em­brac­ing the po­ten­tial of pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ships.

He said that Tai­wan’s smart cities ini­tia­tives are strongly po­si­tioned to take ad­van­tage of the thriv­ing tech­nol­ogy ecosys­tem of­fered by the coun­try’s pri­vate sec­tor.

Specif­i­cally, he high­lighted the coun­try’s ad­vanced po­si­tion in such fields as in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy, soft­ware and ad­min­is­tra­tion de­sign. This tech­no­log­i­cal ad­van­tage in the pri­vate sec­tor should feed into col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­forts by the gov­ern­ment to build out its smart city strat­egy.

One of the key out­comes that these smart city ini­tia­tives should be that there is greater sup­port for the coun­try’s youth, says Shih. This can be done by back­ing in­dus­trial clus­ters and in­no­va­tive busi­ness mod­els that al­low the tal­ent of to­mor­row to suc­ceed.

The Acer founder’s vo­cal sup­port of greater smart city sup­port fol­lows news this spring that Tai­wanese in­vest­ment firm Fu Hwa Se­cu­ri­ties is launch­ing a $625 mil­lion global in­vest­ment fund that fo­cuses on In­ter­net of Things (IoT).

Fu Hwa said its new fund will tar­get the plethora of op­por­tu­ni­ties that are emerg­ing from IoT tech­nolo­gies such as self-driv­ing cars, big data, smart lo­gis­tics, cloud com­put­ing and ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing. As well, it added that it will be ex­plor­ing in­vest­ments in such sec­tors as phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, en­ergy, en­vi­ron­men­tal and biotech.

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