Moving into mobility

Moving into mobility

The mobility trend may have been slowed by the global economic crisis, but it still has momentum and is one channel partners can look to for expansion. ARN investigates key products and services being offered in the market.

In the ebb and fl ow of any macro economic climate, there are always sectors of the IT industry that are on the up. And in the reigning economic plunge, undoubtedly the virtualisation space is one that continues to prove attractive to clients and profitable to those helping them go down that path. Arguably, another is mobility.

While most analyst firms have indicated hardware sales are slowing as confidence dips and purse strings get drawn, the trend away from being shackled at a desk to the humble desktop PC is far from abating. Cheaper, mobile devices, and in particular netbooks, are continuing the rise that saw laptops/notebooks overtake the desktop PC last year.

Add to this the promise of better wireless connectivity with Telstra’s enhanced HSPA (or eHSPA) NextG network and its reported world’s fastest 21Mbps speeds, and the mobility space shimmers with opportunity.

Devices in demand

While margins may have come down on most IT hardware, squeezed further by the falling Aussie dollar, the sheer range of mobility devices hitting the market is impressive. Although more are to come, there are a few that standout from the crowd and should be considered as part of any portfolio.

First off the rank is the quickly expanding segment of netbooks or ultraportable mobile PCs (UMPCs) pioneered by the Asus Eee PC and quickly followed by a slew of vendors including HP, Lenovo, Sony, Toshiba, Acer and Dell.

Ingram Micro business manager, Vladimir Mitnovetski, said netbooks were seeing the biggest growth across the mobility products he handles.

“In the personal computer space or in the notebook space, it was essential to have a desktop,” he said. “Then we have moved the market into the concept that you must have a mobile PC with you, which has become the notebook. They have become a necessity rather than a luxury.

“Now we are moving the market into the realisation that the notebook can be used as your desktop PC and as a mobile asset or device, but only to a certain extent. When you go for a coffee or a meeting, you wouldn’t necessarily want to take the whole notebook with you.

“So what we are forcing the market into, is the smaller devices like netbooks. For us, netbooks are a big push to get people to realise that besides having your mobile PC, you need something which is at a $499 or $599 price point as your second PC source, where you can get online any time, and which weighs just half a kilo.”

IDC has also labelled netbooks the new “battleground”. With Vodafone trying to offer the devices free with a broadband plan – as happens with mobile phones and smartphones – 2009 will be the year netbooks are given free to customers on contracted plans, the analyst firm claims. Techhead Connect CEO, Tim Fussell, agreed and added it should extend to traditional notebooks.

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