There's an article in the Financial Times (paywall) that quotes JT Wang, the CEO of Acer, admonishing Microsoft to "think twice" and warning that PC brands "may take a negative reaction" if Microsoft continues to push into the hardware space with its Surface convertible laptop-tablet. In another interview, the President of PCs at Acer asks, if Microsoft gets into the hardware business, "what should we do? Should we still rely on Microsoft, or should we find other alternatives?"
"Take a negative reaction"? "Find other alternatives"? What are you guys talking about?
Acer, here's my question to you all. What are you gonna do? You've got no card to play here? Are you gonna start shipping Android or Linux on your laptops? I doubt it. If you had positive results from your research on those alternatives, you'd have long ago quit paying the Microsoft Windows tax and moved to them. I've seen your margins and they're tiny. If you really thought you could shave $110-$190 from the price of your Windows laptops and desktops by moving to Linux and that consumers would still buy them at anywhere near current rates, you would surely have done it. Now Microsoft has challenged you to up your game and deliver something new and fresh and you're making veiled threats? I don't get it.
Now, I'm not a huge Windows fan, but c'mon. What are the alternatives for a Windows OEM? Apple isn't about to start licensing its OSes. Android isn't particularly ready for a mouse and keyboard world. Linux doesn't test or sell well (ask Dell about that one.)
For better or for worse, PC OEMs are wedded to Microsoft and they'll sink or swim right along with Microsoft. There is no way out for them in the desktop and laptop space.
There's a part of me that wonders if there wasn't a way out for these OEMs about 5 years ago -- if they'd have done what Samsung and other phone/tablet OEMs have done with Android, taken Linux in-house and added missing functionality, polished up the stuff that was there, and built app stores, even just with one cheap-o laptop line, would things be different today? Probably not, but they'd at least have a more credible threat than they do now.
What do you think? Do the OEMs have any leverage here? If so, is it Linux? Android? Firefox OS? Chrome OS? Something else?