The NSW Department of Education and Training (DET) netbooks tender shortlist announcement has been served up bang on time.
Six companies (ASI Solutions, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asustek and Acer) have been announced as candidates for providing roughly 200,000 netbooks, at $500 a pop, to secondary schools across the state.
There are also four companies (NEC, Lenovo, IBM and ASI Solutions) on the shortlist for a second tender for the rollout of wireless connectivity to all schools to support the devices.
As long as the tender process doesn’t drag on, these announcements are on time because they provide a welcome boost to what had been flagging government spending across the economy; 200,000 netbooks and wireless connectivity infrastructure in schools across the state is no small dish.
It’s even timelier because when you have any kind of economic downturn – let alone one that is unprecedented in scale – governments play a central role in re-stimulating spending and boosting confidence.
But despite lots of talk to the contrary, both State and Federal Governments in Australia have largely failed to deliver on this to date and left the industry suffering hunger pains. Government sector integrators, ComputerCorp and Oakton’s results for the first half of the financial year are testament to this negligence.
Yes, we have a $42 billion stimulus package coming, but there isn’t much in the way of infrastructure spoils for the IT industry and any mention of the NBN is probably just a waste of breath at this stage. Add in Federal Government agency hesitation because of the Gershon review, and the market portions on offer have been divvied up among too few players, often going to multinational vendors with little left over for local organisations.
Although the DET netbook tender process was set in stone some months ago, the shortlist announcement will hopefully provide a rocket - even if it is just a confidence shot - to a staggering industry beset by negative news coming out of the northern hemisphere powerhouse economies.