When the chips are down

When the chips are down

The impact of component shortages is still reverberating around the channel. Vendors such as Compaq and Acer, which have the purchasing advantage of volume in the components race, are actively targeting white box sales. It is a strategy which seems to be working; this year has seen the market share of unbranded PCs continuously decline. In the first quarter of this year, Hewlett-Packard recorded growth of more than 60 per cent, according to IDC figures. In contrast, white-box sales dropped 22 per cent.

While the industry in general is bemoaning a sluggish PC environment, brand names such as HP and Compaq are going from strength to strength. The trend continued in, August where Inform reports sales in clone-brand PCs fell 18 per cent. Meanwhile, Compaq's market share increased 7 per cent and IBM's share increased 5 per cent.

But the combination of increasingly squeezed price points and a healthy SME market with a preference for branded offerings with assemblers forced to source components from many different sources has taken a large bite out of a market which has previously been the bread and butter of many reseller businesses. Throughout this year, the channel has again and again complained of the preferential treatment given to larger companies based on buying power.

Vendors blame the shortage on inaccurate forecasting within the channel, claiming that the reported shortages were in fact due to rapid expansion of demand rather than a constriction of supply.

Whatever the reason, the white-box market has definitely suffered and with users increasingly associating brand names with PC, the situation looks set to continue.

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