Chip growth stymied by tender process

Chip growth stymied by tender process

In July, amid much fanfare, chip behemoth Intel launched the much awaited 915 G/P and 925X Express chipsets. Aimed squarely at the emerging digital entertainment marketplace, the launch made much of the technology's capacity to support features such as high-definition video and Dolby 7.1 surround sound.

Although the 915 technology is gaining ground in the home user sector, where it largely obviates the need for video and sound cards, local manufacturers have experienced a harder sell into the corporate market.

"Our focus is on the 915G, because it is really the new Intel image platform," product manager for local manufacturer ASI Solutions, Craig Quinn, explained. "Sales have been pretty small to date, but we didn't expect a rapid uptake."

Quinn is largely unconcerned regarding sluggish sales, as he pointed out that 915-based models are currently undergoing evaluation by a range of clients. He expects sales to pick up in the New Year.

"There is no doubt it will become mainstream and that we'll get more tenders asking for this technology," Quinn said. "The response to the technology story is really positive, not from any particular vertical, more from customers across the different industries that want to keep up-to-date with their own technology roadmaps."

However, according to retail channel desktop product manager for local PC manufacturer Optima, David Choi, the corporate sector lag has been largely due to the nature of the change.

"We can't just make a sudden shift to an entirely different platform," Choi said. "Like previous transitions it is going to take some time."

According to Choi, the new chipsets are performing most strongly in the home market, which Optima services entirely through its reseller channel.

"We are satisfied with the run rate of the new chipsets, consumers seem to be far more aware of the platform than the corporate sector," Choi said. "Intel is really pushing the digital home in its marketing."

Choi and Quinn agreed the technology would benefit from a corporate-specific marketing campaign, to bring the new functionality into sharper relief for large business and government customers.

Intel area sales manager for Australia and New Zealand, Andrew McLean, rejected suggestions that Intel's marketing focus on the digital home has in any way stifled growth in the corporate sector, arguing the approach is necessarily different in each market.

"When it comes to the corporate market we take a different approach," McLean said. "It is more a technical exercise, rather than something based on advertising. It's seminar driven, and we are spending a lot of money on running those seminars explaining to people what the technology can do for their business."

Moreover, having had a full quarter to evaluate the new technology's performance, McLean agreed uptake so far has been focused on the home user sector, but said it is entirely in line with expectations.

"Even at the entry level the 915 range has a lot of multimedia functions build into the chipset. It certainly lends itself to the multimedia capabilities people are looking for in the home," McLean said. "There's a lot there for the corporates as well, but corporations have a fairly extensive validation process, and they are reviewing the technology at the moment."

Despite the corporate lag, it is widely held that the 915 chipsets will become part of the standard tender requirements early in the New Year, while the home market is expected to grow over Christmas and throughout 2005.

"We are trying to get the PC out of the study and into the lounge room, and this is the technology we needed to do it," Choi concluded.

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