Analysts hail new PC era

Analysts hail new PC era

US retailers made more money selling notebook computers in May than they did selling desktops, according to sales results from The NPD Group’s point-of-sale tracking service.

It’s the first time that notebooks have outsold desktops in the US, and industry analysts suggest Australia is not far behind.

NPD said this milestone occurred as US retailers selling computer products posted their best year-over-year sales in nearly four years, jumping 13.6 per cent over May 2002.

According to NPD, notebook computer sales volumes have been gradually closing the sales gap with desktop models during the past four years. In January 2000, NPD said, notebooks represented less than 25 per cent of sales volume. By May notebooks represented 54 per cent of the nearly $US500 million dollar in retail computer sales a month.

General manager of Leading Edge Group Australia, Ross Whitelaw, said users were replacing the use of a desktop with notebook computers as the technology develops to support all applications required.

“We are enjoying serious growth in the notebook business,” he said.

However, Whitelaw said notebooks were not passing desktops in terms of unit sales.

Mass Merchant retailer, Harvey Norman, has observed huge growth in notebook sales, and expects the gap to close between notebook and desktop sales in the near future.

Harvey Norman national product manager for computer hardware, Paul Schnell, said notebook computers were “taking off” as consumers are deciding to focus more on portability.

“The gap per unit is closing very quickly,” he said.

Schnell said the ratio of desktop sales per unit compared to notebook sales wass 3:2, which was a large increase from 3:1 at the same time last year.

Inform research manager, Claire Taverner, agreed that the sales gap was closing in Australia.

“Notebook volume percentages are increasing due to the price reduction and technology,” she said. “We expect it to continue.”

IDC research director, Joel Martin, also attributed the closing gap to a reduction in price of notebooks as well as increased competition in the market and better machine performance.

He said notebook sales were increasing at 15 per cent, compared to 3 per cent for desktops.

“Back-end solutions such as wireless connectivity to office applications have increased the popularity of notebooks,” he said.

Martin noted that notebook vendor, Optima, had achieved more notebook sales in Australia in the first quarter this year than all of last year combined.

Another milestone

NPD also said unit sales of flat-screen LCD monitors surpassed the sales of older-style tube-based CRT’s for the first time.

Director of industry analysis at NPD, Stephen Baker, said it was fitting that these milestones should occur together, as they were both important components in the increased movement of the PC out of the home office and into everyday use.

“The key to the increase in sales was consumers’ desire for computing products that offer portability and attractive designs at good prices,” he said.

“Selling prices fell below $US1300 for the first time ever”.

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