The Why behind Clear.fi
Yesterday's big bevy of releases from Acer saw the unveiling of several swanky new tablets and a dual-screen laptop. It was an impressive conference, but the software releases that day were at least as important as the hardware. Acer's new Clear.fi system says a lot about their vision for the future.
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In brief, Clear.fi allows any Acer device you have hooked up to a WiFi network to stream its media to any other Acer device on the network. Clear.fi picks out connected devices on its own and can enable streaming for both audio and video. It also allows you to share your stuff on social media sites.
Clear.fi will be installed on every single Acer device made next year. Which is probably enough to qualify it as a major push from the manufacturer. But towards what?
Well, towards becoming Apple. Acer has been watching the Cupertino-based company carefully, and they seem to be trying to manouver themselves into a similar position. Apple products exist within a recursive loop, a closed ecosystem that makes your i-Gadgets more valuable when you use more Apple products.
Clear.fi is basically Apple Airplay. Alive is a digital music/movie/ebook store with its own Genius-like program for recommending new buys. Both pieces of software make the whole Acer product catalogue more valuable. The more Clear.fi devices you have (loaded with media from Alive) the more easily you can share and move content.
Viewed in that light, Acer's most recent product decisions all seem to share a pattern. They've launched smartphones now seek to establish themselves in the tablet market as well. Acer now sells as wide a family of devices as Apple, everything from desktop rigs to handhelds and tablet PCs.
Consumers in 2011 are going to be on the lookout for tablets and cheap home computing solutions. Acer can offer them both, probably for less than the cost of a single MacBook Pro. And customers bringing those devices home will quickly realize the benefit of making sure their future gadgets come from Acer.
"My desktop can share media with other Acer devices? Well, that settles which tablet I'm buying..."
"You mean, if I buy this Acer smartphone, I can stream media from my tablet or desktop?"
"So Alive is like iTunes, but with a cooler name?"
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Yeah- sometime tells me this is going to work like gang-busters. While Apple's closed loop ferries away most of the "premium" customers, Acer will sweep the folks who don't want to spend $1000+ on a laptop into their (less) closed loop. It's a cunning plan. The question is, will we fall for it? Or, to put a point on it, should we?