Despite the massive hype surrounding information appliances, the PC market is not dead, according to IDC.
But as prices and margins continue to slide, vendors will have to find new ways of attracting customers and adopt new sales channels.
Roger Kay, IDC's personal systems research manager, said at the firm's Directions 2000 conference in San Jose, California, this week that the number of PCs shipped in western Europe between 1999 and 2004 would increase at an annual compound growth rate of 11.6 per cent because "PCs are still the most viable way of getting onto the internet".
But he urged suppliers to consider selling through non traditional channels, particularly as the consumer market has enjoyed a resurgence thanks to the internet. An example of such new channels is the free PC model, whereby consumers receive a machine in return for signing on with a particular internet service provider.
"Free PCs worked because consumers ultimately wanted access," Kay explained. But he also warned that such schemes were unsustainable because of the high cost of giving away hardware.
He claimed instead that the best sales channels were affinity marketing schemes, which are aimed at special interest communities and enable members of clubs, for example, to purchase PCs at special rates, particularly if they have a revenue-generating web portal.
"The owners of web content will own the customer," Kay added.
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