As the tail-end of the post-Y2K refresh bites, IDC is predicting that over the next 12 months notebook sales will decrease in the enterprise space for companies with more than 250 employees.
Conversely, the study also found sales of small handheld devices (SHDs) would grow markedly, and tablet PCs would record a slight increase over the same period.
IDC market analyst for PC hardware, Michael Sager, said the original refresh momentum caused by the combination of a strong exchange rate, economy and the approaching end of financial year, had all but petered out, and was the major cause for the decrease in the 250+ space.
Dell corporate notebooks product manager, Jeff Morris, disagreed.
He said the market was in a unique position due to a change in buying behaviour.
“People are pushing purchases to later in the year due to factors such as property, interest rates and it being an election year,” Morris said. “There isn’t a softening, just a putting off.”
Sager said SMBs, however, would continue to see growth over the next 12 months as the refresh cycle ripple dissipated.
HP marketing development manager for commercial notebooks, Matt Dalton, said any decrease HP would see in the 250+ space would be marginal, and the SMB and SOHO spaces were still growing strongly.
“The refresh question is hard to figure out,” Dalton said. “Growth in notebooks since 2000 has been huge. The real question is, ‘What proportion is refresh and what people migrating from PCs to notebooks?’”
Sager said the study also found opportunities were being missed due to poorly designed notebook ergonomics. ”Notebooks have not made it into the government space as laptops, to date, have not had good adherence to the ergonomic standards unions and government bodies have placed on them,” he said.
HP’s Dalton agreed and said it was difficult to meet ergonomic standards by virtue of notebook design. However, the market should expect better form factors with bigger screens and larger keyboard areas by the end of the year, but at a cost to portability.
Sager said vendors could look to education for opportunities based on the upcoming federal election.
“The Federal Government is looking at the PC-to-student ratio and trying to bring it down,” he said. “The back-end — servers, networking and cabling — still hasn’t caught up with the number of PCs being sold.”
Private schools, in particular, had a huge demand for notebooks due to prestige and weight/form factor issues, Sager said.