September's indirect PC sales figures showed a predictable 22 per cent slump over the previous month, but according to channel research organisation Inform, these figures were expected to plateau in October before showing an improvement in November.
"Important economic events have toyed with the PC market in Australia as both consumer and business buying behaviour has swayed considerably," said Hakan Alac, senior research analyst with Inform.
Amidst the gloom, Alac found some positive indicators for the rest of the year, such as the gathering momentum of PC sales around Intel's P4 processors, which jumped 4 per cent over August. In the processor stakes, P4's market share grew to 7 per cent, according to Inform.
"While September was a month that vendors and the channel would rather forget, early reseller sales data collected by Inform shows that the market will bounce back to August levels, but this will not occur until November figures come in."
Alac said PC sales have been erratic for more than 12 months, since dropping 16 per cent during September 2000 when the Olympics were on in Sydney. There was also a sharp rise of 17 per cent in June as buyers took advantage of the many end-of-financial-year sales taking place.
"Now we can see how recent world events have had an irrefutably negative impact on the market," Alac said of the sharp drop in September.
Inform's research found the effects of the September slump had repercussions across the board, with "all of the major indirect vendors" losing "considerable ground" over the previous month, said Alac.
Compaq remained the sales winner with 21 per cent market share, but it nevertheless suffered a 29 per cent drop. Sales slid 22 per cent at Hewlett-Packard (16 per cent market share) which sits in second place, while the next two players - IBM and Toshiba - dipped by 21 per cent and 29 per cent respectively.
Alac said that the 15 per cent drop in PC sales through corporate dealer channels, which represent 39 per cent of all sales, was "a significant blow to the commercial channel". He feels businesses are adopting a "wait-and-see approach" in the aftermath of the events of September 11.
"This has not been helped by stagnating prices and scant software offerings," Alac said.
Worst hit in the September freeze was the mass-merchant retail chain, which pulled in 45 per cent less than it did just one month before. Alac put this down to a market that is "typically sensitive to uncertainty" and which is still adopting "the why should I upgrade' mentality".
"Longer term, the PC market will not return to true health until mid-2002," Alac said.