Metamorphosis of the PC

Many in the channel expect the PC market to pick up in the second half of 2012, largely propelled by Intel’s Ultrabook push and Microsoft’s expected release of Windows 8.

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Metamorphosis of the PC Intel is preparing the next generation of Ultrabooks based on Ivy Bridge processors
By  Clayton Vallabhan Published  July 19, 2012

With experts predicting massive growth in the tablets space, many have argued that the face of computing is changing and that people are moving away from traditional form factors such as the desktop PC. Pundits say all-in-one PCs (AIO) have started to gain wide acceptance in the market and this could pose a threat to the traditional desktop PC.

Lin argued that people who need a fixed place to work will always need a desktop PC, an immovable solution. He said that it will always be around for enthusiasts who like to modify hardware and challenge the current limitations of pre-configured PCs. According to Lin, the commercial and clone market still need desktop PCs. “AIO lack the flexibility of desktop PCs in terms of upgradability,” he said.

Mubeen Ghawte, product manager at Almasa IT Distribution, said there is still a strong demand for desktop PCs in emerging markets, predominantly for home and office use. He said: “For home use, it is still more convenient to use a desktop PC as they are more powerful in performance, suited better for gaming and have options to increase storage. In my opinion, the first PC used within a home should be a desktop. On the office front, the primary factor is security, and traditional desktops still hold ground as they remain much more secure.”

Ghawte believes that AIO PCs will complement the traditional desktop form-factor, but not replace it. However, he admits that there are certain industries such as education and banking, where the AIO may gain market share and may eventually replace the desktop. “The advantage of all-in-one machines is that they boast the same power as a desktop, yet offer the same simplicity of a notebook. Once the price gap between a traditional desktop narrows, we will begin to see the percentage of AIO market share increasing.”

El Deeb added that desktops will always be relevant, however, there will be a shift from consumers to organisations and commercial entities like banks, government and different businesses. He said whereas consumers are more likely to go for mobility and tablets alike, AIO PCs may not fully replace the traditional desktop but they will surely eat away from the desktop market share.

Dell’s Coulston disagreed, saying that AIOs are an addition and not a replacement for desktops: “We live in a multi-device age. The desktop PC is still relevant even more so in some geographies in the Middle East especially in particular industries such as education and fixed computing environments.”

Ashish Panjabi, COO at power retailer Jacky’s Electronics pointed out that desktops don’t necessarily face a threat from AIO, but from consumers who are opting for notebooks instead.

“Most tablet owners have a laptop or desktop PC. Tablets have been complimentary devices, but the PC market is still huge,” Panjabi said.

Even through the whirlwind that has morphed the traditional PC to take on many new forms, the desktop PC segment appears to be here to stay. But with the commoditisation of PCs, analysts say resellers and partners need to diligently work on differentiating themselves from their competition.

Coulston said differentiation could only be achieved through the services the partner offers its customers. He said it was crucial to understand the customer environment and explain to them how they can take advantage of particular technology available in the market.

Empa’s Argyrides agreed and pointed out that more focus is needed on educating customers and resellers. He said Empa provides frequent training and facilitates vendor-driven programmes. “We are also quite proactive in working closely with individual partners on their specific marketing, go-to-market strategy and growth plans,” he said.

Ghawte added that intelligent selling is vital, especially since customers have now become more tech savvy. “Education is key – we need to educate our resellers on products, as well as sell or propose products that are more suited to the end-user’s requirements. We need to analyse and differentiate before making a sale – intelligent selling is important. Customers are much more tech-aware than a few years ago,” Ghawte said.

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