Opportunity lies in variety

Opportunity lies in variety

More often than not, advances in technology have seen manufacturers creating new hardware products that have greater functionality than their predecessors and can process more information in less time. And what's more, these advances are usually delivered in a smaller form factor.

Although this model is being followed by notebook manufacturers, we are also seeing growth at the other end of the scale with some models boasting 20-inch screens. Such machines are a tiny fraction of the market today, and are unlikely to see significant growth anytime soon, but they are the latest example of how the notebook market is fracturing.

Until quite recently, notebooks largely came in two broad flavours - commercial and consumer. These are still the categories used by analysts when sizing the market but, driven by user demand, we have seen lots of niche categories come through. Ruggedised models are targeted at professionals working in tough environments, tablets in sectors like healthcare and education, ultra mobiles for those who put a high value on portability. A handful of vendors - HP, Toshiba, Dell, Apple and Acer - now account for more than three of every four laptops sold and breadth of product is key to their success. For the rest of the vendors, the best strategy is likely to be building a good niche as Panasonic has managed to do with its Toughbook range.

In a market as small as Australia, I think you have to question how many of the other brands will be around in a couple of years. This is especially true for vendors that would not view notebooks as their core business.

The continued growth of notebooks at the expense of desktops also raises serious questions about the viability of local builders. No doubt some will continue to eek out a living in niche segments like high-end gaming PCs but, despite the best efforts of Intel to help them compete in the mobile space, it is difficult to see many prospering.

This guide to selling notebooks includes advice from industry experts on cross-selling and up-selling opportunities to help you drive maximum dollar value out of every potential sale. There is also a Q&A with chip giants, AMD and Intel, assessing market direction and a selection of the latest and greatest products.

For the channel, the degree of variation available today makes life challenging but also offers significant opportunity to drill down into the needs of customers and act as a consultant in a market that is in many ways commoditised.

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