Rising notebooks, setting desktops

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This article appeared in the 3 March 2008 issue of CRN magazine.

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Rising notebooks, setting desktops
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Bill Gates once said: “I think it’s fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tool we’ve ever created. They’re tools of communication, they’re tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user.”

When Gates unveiled his vision of a “PC on every desk and in every home”, it was deemed a laughable concept by some sections of the market. Today, PCs are the lifeblood if the IT industry, but we have witnessed some highly significant changes in the PC landscape in recent years. The need for on-demand connectivity and mobility has driven the rise of notebooks, but where does that leave the traditional desktop computer?

The rise of notebooks

“In the next five years the traditional desktop will be replaced by the notebook,” according to Jeff Li, director at white-box maker Pioneer Computers. “On the high-end, desktops will keep going, but the mid- to low-end will be replaced by notebooks.

“We are finding that desktops are going in two directions: bigger and more powerful, and the other is smaller and smaller. The same is happening with notebooks which are getting smaller and smaller, with the price coming down too, but the price of higher-end notebooks has gone up,” added Li.

Henry Lee, notebook product manager at Acer, said: “In terms of growth, notebooks are in the double digits – around the 30 percent mark. For desktops that growth is flat, or maybe at three percent positive only.

“The price/performance ratio has really tipped to the point that the notebook is the first device being bought. Desktops are more for people wanting high-performance and people who like to tinker with the machine, such as gamers and PC gurus.”

Lee said a lot of the resellers are going with market demand and turning their attentions to the notebook market.

“Resellers need to understand the product so they can sell all of the features. Notebooks and desktops have more features than the average product,” said Lee. “Resellers can provide services and make sure they know the customer’s needs. They own the customer and need to offer extra value. If resellers know a customer’s warranty is about to expire, they should
cold call the customer.”

Lee echoed Li’s views, by stating that the future for notebooks is expanding in two directions, with bigger notebooks getting bigger and smaller notebooks getting smaller.

David Nicol, director of small business and consumer at Lenovo A/NZ, said the vendor has witnessed customers on the notebook side give more consideration to portability in the buying decision, with size and weight proving important.

“Professionals are becoming increasingly mobile and are looking for lighter notebooks with more battery life and products that can stand up to the tests they are put under. Less focus is on raw performance and screen size,” said Nicol. “With both notebooks and desktops, power consumption and the environmental impact is increasingly important. We are seeing more consumers take note of products which have environmental certifications.”

However, the desktop market remains strong according to Nicol, but the benefits of mobility is driving demand of notebooks.

“There is money to be made in notebooks and desktops for our resellers. They can make money on margin and for our partners it is a lot to do with the rebate program we offer. There is also an opportunity to make extra profit in providing their own services alongside our services, and peripherals, too. Margin can be boosted through selling accessories and we offer further rebates on accessories and customers get a more complete solution. Resellers can also offer warranty upgrades and our Thinkpad Protection Program enables partners to sell piece of mind.”

Nicol said every customer needs to buy PC technology and it is a starting point of any customer’s IT budget. “The deployment of PC technology is important to organisations and resellers can have conversations around services, manageability of solutions, peripherals and infrastructure,” said Nicol. “I think [providing notebooks and desktops] starts with having an understanding of the customers’ requirements. Notebooks and desktops are not commoditised products, so resellers can match the PC technology
with requirements.

“The desktop market will continue to be significant for the industry and our customers. The need for desktops will not go away, but the transition towards mobility will continue. The importance of notebook size and weight will prove increasing important,”
added Nicol.
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