The PC market ride

The PC market ride

PC dealers will undoubtedly breathe a sigh of relief at the distinct lack of events which drove sales to the highs and lows of 2000.

But while sales are beginning to pick up in the post-Olympic market, the impact of the GST will make itself felt for the coming 12 months as small and medium businesses struggle with Business Activity Statements.

"A lot of people struggled to get their BAS in and that impacts on their cashflow, which in turn impacts on spending," said managing director of the Mercury Group, Derek Merdith. "That will drive the need for PCs next year, but the purchasing cycle will match the three-month BAS cycles."

Owner of PC assemblers and services company Techcel Computer Services Michael Lacey said the slow sales arising from Olympics fever were continuing and business would not pick up until late February to March.

"We are working very hard at the moment and our figures are more a reflection of how we are working rather than continuous sales. There is the traditional slow-down during Christmas, then sales will ramp up."

Lacey hopes next year will see the larger, multinational PC vendors struggle in the Australian market.

"Compaq, for example, has moved to do all its sales and servicing itself and I think that has been the wrong move," he said. "Australians need to believe more in Australian companies, not in the bigger American companies."

The whittling down of the white-box market looks set to continue, but this could be part of the PC business cycle.

"We've been in the industry for 15 years and the popularity of brand names tend to cycle. As the vendors drop their prices, very often white-box sales are affected, then as they try and recoup their losses, PC prices rise and the market swings back to white-boxes again. If that happens, it won't be until later in the year."

The large PC companies will continue to be a thorn in the side of smaller Australian companies, Lacey said, because they make competition difficult.

"The problem with larger companies is that they tout globalisation, but it doesn't work in the true sense of the word because if smaller players try to bring in their own product, there are problems with grey markets - it is unfair in that respect."

On the technology side, wireless solutions look set to be more fully integrated into the PC market and users will utilise their PCs for entertainment more than ever.

"We run wireless here in the office and at home, and it is good, convenient stuff, but I think the end of next year is when we will really see wireless take off, particularly in the personal area," Merdith said.

The term personal computer will really come into its own next year because it will be used for more personal things such as entertainment and services, spearheaded by a maturing of the DVD market.

"The mix between entertainment and infotainment means technologies are merging to form a different kind of IT we haven't yet seen."

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