New distribution channels is one reason the Australian PC industry has had "profound changes" in the past 12 months, according to IDC's latest report.
The report says other key influences in the market have been the rise of low-cost consumer PCs, the release of new microprocessors and models, and the restructure of the main players in the market.
"The development of the low-cost PC market is perhaps the most profound trend in today's PC market because it signals lower revenue growth and the need to boost unit volume, a realignment of business and volume models among vendors, and the value chain. It may well become a key catalyst to consumer and business market expansion," said Bernie Esner, senior analyst, PCs, IDC Australia.
After years of double-digit growth, the total market growth in 1997 was 9.1 per cent with shipments increasing by 126,230 units. "Generally speaking the market life cycle is slowing but this is still a significant increase over 1996," Esner noted.
Esner says the slowdown is even starker when examined in value terms. With the average price of PCs expected to drop significantly this year, IDC is forecasting a 12.8 per cent decrease in the overall value of the industry in 1998. The value for 1997 was up slightly from 1996 due to changes in product mixes and form factors, and increased feature sets (which includes software and hardware bundling).
According to the newly-released report, The Australian Personal Computer Market, Review and Forecast 1997 - 2002, there will be significant changes over the next 12 months.
"It's pure market dynamics. Consumers currently have too much choice, both in terms of brand and configuration. It's confusing and divisive. To ensure buyer loyalty and confidence, all vendors - particularly the majors - will be forced to reassess their product mixes," said Esner.
The paper contains a comprehensive analysis of the Australian personal computer market. It also provides the current positions of the main players and includes a summary on the key issues, accelerators and inhibitors, volume price bands, buying periods, channels and societal change which now influence the Australian PC market.