Your editorial, From Desks to Laps (ARN, June 19, p2), paints a rosy picture of the beleaguered IT industry being saved by the sudden increase in laptop sales -- hot hardware items as you put it. The editorial fails to recognise that notebooks carry particularly low margins compared to desktops. A distie might make between 1 and 3 per cent (before marketing rebates that are supposed to be spent on increasing market share instead of increasing their bottom line) and a retailer might make from 6 to 8 per cent -- that's it. The hot end of the market is the heavily discounted $2599 end, not the $4000-plus P4 so you have to sell nearly two notebooks to every similarly priced PC just to maintain the status quo.
Why have notebooks become hot? Well the simple reason is that a 14/15-inch LCD has a bigger viewing area than the standard 15/17-inch CRT, so the consumer can clearly see that there is a very small price premium compared to buying a similarly equipped desktop and separate LCD monitor.
Another problem is that notebooks almost completely remove a retailer's ability to value-add to the sale. You can now compare "apples with apples" and buy purely on price, knowing that you have a national manufacturer's backed guarantee so it doesn't matter where you buy.
Another particularly disturbing trend with the unbranded notebooks is the widespread use of Intel or AMD desktop processors instead of the much more expensive mobile versions. A desktop processor not only runs hotter, it consumes more power and leaves the consumer with a very hot laptop (literally) and very short battery life.
No, the notebook is not the saviour, it is the beginning of the commoditisation of the PC industry, and is moving us closer to the "brown-goods" sell-and-forget model.
Ray Shaw, Qld.
Editor's Note: I don't think the editorial in question ever suggests that notebooks are the saviour of the industry, merely that they are selling well and growing market share in a flat market. It attempts to highlight the phenomenon that is seeing notebooks being sold where desktops once dominated and to forewarn the channel about the need to cater for the demand of their customers. - G.N.