Terrorism has no effect on PC buying – IDC

Mature, Replacement

September 11 and the war in Afghanistan have had little or no impact on the PC or handheld buying intentions of Western Europeans.

That's the good news from the Consumer Hardware Survey. The bad news is that the consumer PC market is rapidly approaching maturity, with renewals overtaking first-time purchases. Why is this bad news for PC makers? Well, 60 per cent of PC owners surveyed do not intend to by a new system in 2001 or 2002, while
43 per cent say they won't buy a new PC until after 2004.

And the economic climate is not to blame - although a quarter of Europeans surveyed are less confident about their financial prospects next year, 28 per cent are more confident.

A mature consumer PC market means that more emphasis is placed on add-ons and peripherals - PC owners are four times more likely to buy a new printer in 2002 than a new PC, the survey finds.

Currently PC makers make most of their emphasis on getting first-time buyers. They should adjust their marketing messages to capture the renewal market, IDC recommends. Our guess in marketing terms that this will translate fewer compulsory bundles - why would someone want a second scanner and second copy of Encarta?

The second push is much more expensive - and that is ensuring good post-sales service. High street retailers traditionally capture the lion's share of PC newbies, but then they lose out when it comes to second-time-arounders. If - and it's a big if - the big retailers (in the UK Dixons Stores Group, Tiny and Time) really get their act together on this front, then they will choke off demand from the likes of Dell. ®