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‘PC not dead, just redefined’

CME Conference panelists say IT channel witnessing broadening of personal computing category

‘PC not dead, just redefined’
Tony Saade of Commfirm World, believes competing with tablet market leaders requires a strong app ecosystem.

The decline of the PC was a central topic of debate at Channel Middle East magazine's Channel Conference in the Oberoi Centre, Dubai earlier today.

But a team of expert panelists sought to put a different spin on the beleaguered form factor, with more than one claiming that rather than seeing the death of the PC, the channel was merely witnessing a broadening definition of the term "personal computing".

"How we define the PC as an ecosystem is expanding," said Saibal Banerjee, lead, OEM Distribution and Reseller, Microsoft.

Tablet shipments have been in startling ascendancy this year, reaching year-on-year growth of 208% in the second quarter, thereby surpassing PC shipments for the first time, according to figures from IDC.

Asem Galal, managing partner, Gala & Karawi Consulting and moderator of the panel discussion, suggested "95% of PCs run on Windows; 95% of mobile devices do not run on Windows".

Such rapid change, panelists agreed, was a huge challenge for the regional IT channel. As Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co continue their dominance of a market they exploited before other manufacturers were able to mount meaningful challenges, how will these other vendors peel consumers away from the two market leaders?

Tony Saade, director, Brand Strategy, Commfirm World, believes the answer lies in the added extras consumers get from handsets, such as preloaded apps and those available through the hardware's supporting ecosystem.

"When consumers shop for devices, they shop for [products] that empower them to do more," he said.

While the PC is still alive and well in the enterprise space, consumerisation of IT has given birth to the by-now-familiar BYOD (bring your own device) movement, leading to additional competition for the traditional desktop in a battleground where it once had no rival. When it comes to the enterprise market, Microsoft's Banerjee believes the channel can profit from adding value in a key area that is of interest to business customers: security.

"BYOD is here to stay," he cautioned. "Factors like security and productivity are going to be very important. Our channel partners need to develop skill sets that allow them to provide these value-added services."

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