Retailers had a tough year in 2001, but the signs are there for a peripherals, security and backup-led recovery in 2002.
In terms of peripherals, scanners, digital cameras and video editing solutions are all gaining momentum and look likely to be the big movers in 2002.
Ross Whitelaw, general manager of the Leading Edge Computers (LEC) group, a buying cooperative of independent dealers, said that because of the pressure of shrinking hardware margins, resellers will have to focus on new areas of business.
"That might include value-added services or newer technologies," Whitelaw said. "It is difficult to see existing products providing the same revenues as they have in the past."
Whitelaw said that LEC's membership is currently recording "a very large business in upgrades" to new digital devices and components, which enhance the operation of existing PCs.
"Add-on peripherals in the digital imaging area - such as better-quality scanners, printers and the cameras themselves - are in bigger demand than performance upgrades," he said. "Who would have believed 12 months ago that a mouse could be sold for $200, but the new cordless models are doing just that. Wireless technology is driving a lot of excitement at the moment."
Whitelaw said there is also a lot of demand for more memory and storage space as well and he expects the demand for peripherals and performance enhancement to continue well into the new year.
"Then there is all the consumables that follow on from the digital imaging sales. They should be strong next year as well."
Meanwhile, solutions catering to the genuine risk of losing data as a result of viruses are running hot. Protection of data will remain a key driver for consumers and small business.
Fabio Grassia, managing director of distributor Natcomp, said he has seen a remarkable upturn in the demand for any solution that enables fast, easy, plug-and-play backup. "We have just started selling a USB storage device that is inexpensive, easy to use and smaller than a cigarette lighter. I think all sorts of personal computer backup solutions will be hot next year. They have been ever since the events of September 11.