Despite the emergence of a huge number of low-cost information appliances and smart handhelds, the PC is not dead, according to IDC senior analyst Bernard Esner.
Speaking at Directions '99, Esner discussed the impact of some of the new computer devices on the IT channel.
"Price is important, simplicity is everything, and although advertising agencies hate my guts, I do not believe in mass marketing. Segmentation rules everything," he said.
Looking at the emerging digital home, Esner predicted that information appliances (IAs) will transcend it. "The digital home is not just a hub for entertainment, but also for education and business," he said.
"So does this mean PC vendors and their distribution channels will create an alternate IA sector?" Esner suggests not, but careful consideration to market segmentation will be needed. Esner reported that in 1998 worldwide, there were around 6 million IAs, which he expects to be 55 million in 2002 and approaching a value of $15 billion.
"And if segmentation is important with the IA market, it is even more so with smart handhelds (SHH). There will need to be a clear differentiation between them and mini notebooks," warned Esner.
But despite the growth in IAs and SHHs, Esner assures us that the PC is not dead. "There are 8 million PCs installed in Australia today and 1.8 million shipped this year. Like the cockroach, the PC has great survival techniques," he said. "Handhelds are an add-on to the PC, not a replacement. There is a new range of products revolving around the PC and IAs only mean the end of the PC-centric era."
Esner said that the IA and SHH represent business opportunities for the IT channel, especially in vertical markets, and the business models must evolve to embrace these opportunities.