The increasingly fast pace of change in the IT industry has exposed an opportunity for companies in the rental arena to provide businesses with the latest technology, and individuals with a cheap option to the usual purchase plans.
Queensland retailer Computer Hardware Hire has been taking advantage of the growing leasing trend for over 10 years now, the last two under the auspices of proprietor Peter Appleton. "A lot of people are aware that technology becomes obsolete so quickly now that they prefer to rent rather than buy," he said.
According to Appleton, it is not just the convenience factor that has encouraged people to rent, it is cost-effectiveness as well.
And the market is just getting bigger, with Appleton explaining that in addition to the continually changing face of technology, increased computer literacy has also generated more avid interest in his business. "The market for rentals is expanding more because people in general are using computers more, especially for the Internet."
The increased penetration of technology provides Appleton with some value-add opportunities as well. "I can set people up with a local Internet account or help them sort out what they want and how to do it," he said.
This service is directed mostly at individuals, who Appleton estimates make up 50 per cent of his business. "A lot of people want to get a computer but because it might be new to them they don't want to outlay a lot of money before they know what they are doing. That's where I come in," he explained.
The remaining 50 per cent of Computer Hardware Hire's clientele are business clients, predominantly in the small and medium space, who want to maintain a level of technological savvy without constant capital expenditure.
Yet the picture is not entirely perfect with Appleton worried the onset of the GST and consequent cheaper PCs will threaten his business.
"The GST will drive the price of computers down, which is good for me when I buy PCs but it might mean that more people will want to buy them themselves."
And the emergence of 24-month interest free deals from retailers such as Harvey Norman is making competition tough. "This obviously gives consumers an option but it isn't too much of a problem because I tend to aim more for the short-term deals," explained Appleton.
Computer Hardware Hire
Established in 1989, Appleton has owned and run the store since 1997Rents approximately 30 IBM PCs, bubblejet and laser printers, and scannersDeals mostly with weekly and monthly contractsMain competitor in the rental space is Rent LowTarget customers are individuals and SMEs