Resellers angle for surplus education PCs

Resellers angle for surplus education PCs

Plans to distribute 10,000 surplus government computers to schools and community groups are earning belated support from Queensland resellers.

The proposal, announced by incumbent Queensland Premier Rob Borbidge as part of his bid for re-election, initially drew negative reactions from the reseller community.

"My first thought was it meant 10,000 new computers would not be bought," said Steve McDermott, managing director of PC retailer Homework Computers, which has heavy exposure to the education market.

But on re-thinking the situation, McDermott said: "I don't see it as totally negative."

The plan is a major plank in the IT policy of the National-Liberal Party Coalition, which was seeking re-election in Queensland on Saturday.

Ageing State Government PCs have traditionally been disposed of through auctions or are purchased by Government employees. The surplus machines in Borbidge's election promise will consist of 486 systems with a leavening of early model Pentiums, according to Government sources.

Their availability probably won't cut deeply into reseller opportunities as far as leading edge secondary school programs are concerned, dealers suggested.

"Those schools are retiring 486's and low-end Pentiums themselves," said McDermott. "A typical school network is quite state of the art with Pentium 200MHz MMX's at least."

A re-distribution of surplus systems is more likely to filter down to primary schools and could even have the effect of seeding new business. The machines will need component changes to adapt to their new environments and re-configuration is likely to produce both product and support business for dealers.

On top of that, since the machines are free, the education sector's IT budget for new systems stands every chance of remaining at the same levels.

The Queensland initiative reflects similar efforts in the US which have reportedly met with general success.

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