The bundled PC and Internet market is maturing, according to one of the early participants, and fresh on the heels of low-cost PCs the next wave is set to hit - bundled notebooks.
After the first foray which included a choice of systems at $499 and $599 with a $49.95 per month Internet plan, the current big seller is the Intel Celeron 366 based system at $199 with a $69.95 per month payment plan.
According to Peter Lai, vice president of Edge Technology Asia-Pacific, the PC and Internet bundles being sold through Tandy, which initially generated sales of 3000 in each of the first two months, have now reached 5000 per month. On top of this, there have been 2500 bundles sold through approximately 60 other smaller resellers around Australia. These resellers have been promoting a choice of three packages, called "Voila!" (each bundled with a $69.95 monthly Internet plan), of which Lai says 50 per cent of sales are for the top-end PIII 450 at $699 and around 35 per cent for the low-end AMD K6-2 at $99.
One of the most successful of these resellers is Computer Craze of Macquarie Fields in Sydney's West. "We've been selling a lot of the Edge-built systems but mostly the low end," said proprietor Peter Soo. "I think it surprised Edge; they didn't think anyone had any money out here, and a lot of people can afford $69.95 a month," he added. But Edge is not just relying on the Internet bundle with its sister company EISA.
Lai said that as well as supplying the EISA-branded PCs with a 24-month payment plan, Edge is also bundling its own brand of PC with 12 months unlimited Internet access built into the up-front price.
Edge's EISA-branded and Internet-bundled PCs currently represent around 40 per cent of its sales, while Edge-branded PCs with or without Internet access account for 60 per cent. But this ratio will reverse by the end of the year, according to Lai.
For what is believed to be the first time, Edge is set to take on a multinational tier-one notebook brand, bundling it with the EISA package at a price estimated by Lai to be $799. He revealed that Edge is in discussions with IBM and Toshiba, and that a deal should be in place in the next two weeks.