With big vendors, retailers and ISPs forming alliances to corner consumers attracted by low-entry-price PC plans, questions have been posed about the future viability of independents in this market.
However, it may not be all bad news, according to Ross Whitelaw, general manager of Australia's largest co-operative of independent IT retailers, the Leading Edge Computers Group (LEC).
"It is very confusing, as it was with mobile phones when they started to be sold in this manner," Whitelaw said. "Successful independent dealers managed to adapt to that situation and we will do so with PC market developments."
Whitelaw said his observations of the phenomenon indicate that PCs being marketed in this method "weren't walking out the door" and represented just one of the many buying options which retailers find attractive.
At the same time, he says that such deals will be attractive to a percentage of buyers and will stimulate growth in the market as a whole. This introduces additional opportunity for retail sales of software, accessories, peripherals and consumables that can be fostered by developing customer relationships.
"I have been proactive in advising Leading Edge members of what is going on and the feeling is that we obviously have to develop some sort of offer which falls into this category," Whitelaw said. "It is just a matter of getting all our eggs in a row and finding the right partners. As soon as we can come out with a competitive offer, we will do so."