Direct PC sales surge

Direct PC sales surge

Dell, the vendor who snubbed the channel, has taken the number one spot in PC sales to the large business and government sectors in Australia, according to IDC's latest analysis for Q4 2000.

The manufacturer's direct business model appears to have won the hearts and minds of bulk buyers, enabling Dell to usurp Ipex in the public sector and place it yards in front of the number two corporate supplier, Compaq.

Dell first made the number one spot in the corporate sector in Q3 2000 with a 25.8 per cent share, 8 per cent higher than Compaq, according to IDC. It then managed to increase this gap in Q4 to a 28.2 per cent market share. In the public sector, Dell now holds 16.4 per cent market share, the IDC report says.

While IBM, Compaq and Hewlett-Packard are refuting the accuracy of the allegations, claiming Dell has been mischievous about its projections, the channel is bracing itself for the knock-on effect.

The IT market has been buzzing for eons about the importance of value-added services and, as margins on box-moving have become impossibly slim, this buzz has transmuted into a roar. IDC's recent report suggests there is no more slack for those who haven't already realigned their business with services. "We haven't lost a major contract to Dell for as long as I can remember, says Joe Arcuri, NSW sales manager for VAR/integrator BCA IT. "If a systems integrator does their work properly and adds true value, they have a lot more to offer than any Dell," Acuri said.

He added that the myriad of white-box PC manufacturers and systems integrators dropping out of the market of late have also contributed to Dell and other PC vendors' increased market share.

"Yes, [Dell taking the lead] takes market share away from absolutely everyone," says Maree Lowe, director of services and solutions firm ASI. "But whether it's Dell or Compaq or whoever, the truth is that this space will look very different two years from now. [System integrators and VARs] have all moved on. We realise that we can't compete with such very slim margins."

The real pinch, however, will be felt by the international PC vendors themselves. It's been a tough year all-round, and Lowe says many vendors are looking to Australia to increase the market share they may have lost elsewhere. "The battle is hotting up, and companies like ASI will clear the field and let them fight it out," she says.

Whatever the outcome, Lowe says the future will see VARs and systems integrators juggling more partners than ever. "Two years from now we'll have a lot more partners and a lot of different vendors, both international and local. Trying to work with them all in a harmonious manner is going to be the challenge of the future," she says.

IBM rained on Dell's parade, asserting that the 500-plus seat corporations which Dell claims to dominate account for a mere 12 per cent of the total market. The volume of the total PC market shrunk across the board in Q4 2000 and Dell certainly didn't steal market share from IBM, said an IBM spokesperson.Photograph: ASI director Maree Lowe

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