The traditional PC business model may become a thing of the past, as user demand to buy direct gains pace. But suppliers are not moving into direct sales as rapidly as corporate buyers would like.
According to a new report from research company IDC, most suppliers are not aggressive enough in incorporating direct sales into their structures, because they fear upsetting channel partners - but users increasingly want a direct option.
The corporate requirement for cheaper kit has largely fuelled this shift from channel sales to direct, as customers realise the price advantage that comes from bypassing resellers.
IDC analyst Terry Ernest Jones commented: "Manufacturers must get closer to the user so they can monitor their wants and needs. We have to realise that the corporate market has become saturated in Europe, particularly in the northern territories like Sweden. The corporate market has become replacement oriented."
In time, he even believes consumers will follow the corporate trail. "The consumer market may follow this corporate trend as customers gain confidence and lose dependency on the advice and guidance normally given to them by resellers," said Jones.
Internet sales make up a growing part of direct sales these days, but are still not the main method. However, as more people gain access to the Web and become accustomed to Internet commerce, this trend will change, says IDC.
Another trend that it foresees hitting the dealer channel is the network computer, the low cost, cut-down alternative to a PC. "The NC is around half the price of the PC and breaks up the dominance of Wintel," said Jones. This could affect the channel's margins, and is also often appropriate for direct and Web sales.
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