Notebook vendors not worried by supermarket surprise

Notebook vendors not worried by supermarket surprise

Amid the milk, bread, meat and washing powder, customers at Australia’s newest supermarket chain, Aldi, can also find cheap computing equipment, including notebooks as "surprise buys" . However, leading notebook vendors aren't concerned.

Aldi Australia has released a range of cheap computing equipment in limited amounts since launching on the east coast several years ago, often resulting in customers queuing on the streets for the start of the sales.

At the beginning of April, Aldi released a limited number of Medion business notebooks at $2199 each. They sold out in most stores within the first few days.

Aldi would not disclose by whom the machines were assembled or supplied. It did say, however, that the warranty and any customer support responsibility rest with its supplier.

Last year, Aldi also released a limited amount of notebooks with less success, initially retailing at $2999 until dropping to $2399.

Despite the low prices, Toshiba’s general manager, Ralph Stadus, did not think this trend would have an adverse effect on his business as Aldi was offering a different product to a different market.

“The amount you pay affects the quality of the product, particularly in regards to customer support,” he said.

“My largest expense is in customer support. Stocking spare parts for five years and employing qualified engineers costs more than sales and marketing combined.”

Stadus said companies could supply cheaper notebooks by cutting down customer support. But this could have dire consequences.

“Notebooks are still cutting-edge technology," he said. "No matter how much work we put into construction, they still break down or have problems.”

Stadus urged buyers to read product reviews and make informed purchases.

Dell, which supplies to the lower end of the market, was also unconcerned.

“Customers have long embraced technology at value prices and we’ve seen notebook prices continue to fall as component costs decrease, and Dell is able to pass this value swiftly onto our customers,” spokesperson Nicole Gemmell said.

“Although a small segment of the market may prefer to purchase based on cost alone, other important factors drive long term customer satisfaction. These include post sale service and support, brand reliability and a delivery model that customises technology to meet the exact needs of the customer. Customers look for value, however, they also demand latest technology that is relevant and from a trusted partner who will be around to support them for the lifecycle of their product.”

IBM said it was not concerned by Aldi’s foray into notebook sales as the retailer operated in a different market.

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