Computer dealers are well aware of the marketing power wielded by retail competitors and the increasing direct touch of most major vendors.
But a new survey shows that only the dealer channel grew its market share of PC and laptop sales in 2002.
A Gartner survey of 600 Australian channel businesses found computer dealers increased market share of PC and laptop sales by 2 per cent, accounting for 33 per cent of desktop sales and 39 per cent of laptop sales.
VARs sold one in five laptops (down one per cent on last year), while PC sales held steady at 11 per cent.
Direct sales of PCs fell slightly to 37 per cent of PC sales (down one per cent), while direct notebook sales held firm at 23 per cent.
While the survey suggested dealers were holding their own against direct sales, Gartner analyst, Andy Woo, warned that the survey didn’t include Dell, “clearly the leader from the direct perspective.”
“Dealers still play a critical role, but direct is gaining a lot of momentum too,” Woo said. “Dell has exhibited strong growth for the past five to six quarters at least. It’s clear that end users are accepting the direct model.”
Dell’s presence and success in the market had accustomed end users to the direct and online purchase method, he said. The hybrid go to market strategy now popular with most major vendors would continue to see them try to increase their direct sales, he added.
The success of Dell’s market strategy had paved the way for other vendors to focus on online and direct sales, according to Woo.
“Besides Toshiba, most would have a direct versus indirect strategy," he said. "Three years ago, did anyone have an online or direct presence aside from Dell?”
IBM’s PC brand manager, Tim Gunnell, disagreed that Dell’s success would propel IBM to ramp up its direct offerings.
“IBM has had a direct business for at least a good two to three years in various forms,” Gunnell said.
In IBM’s case “our online strategy in the last year and a half hasn’t changed that much at all.”
IBM’s first quarter results hadn’t reflected the survey trend of declining or holding direct sales being eaten by dealers, he said.
Big Blue had seen “a stronger demand across all of the channels,” Gunnell said.