Last year began with uncertainty about the economy, but this January the IT industry is more confident about the year ahead.
Compaq sales director Andrew Seerden says there is a widespread perception that the New Zealand dollar will stabilise further and therefore the confidence in the New Zealand economy will be higher than at the beginning of last year. “The key drivers — Internet use, children’s’ education and business use — are still there and if you look at penetration of computers in homes compared with Australia and the States there’s still some room to move.”
Dell New Zealand general manager Ross Allan believes this year will be the year of brand names, even in the home market.
“I think the decisions taken by Blue Star in terms of PC Direct signal what the industry itself is feeling about the local manufacturers.” He says there is a lot of Y2K business still unsigned which will be done this year.
IDC New Zealand general manager Dinesh Kumar agrees, saying the first half of this year will be “massive” as companies buy what they need to be year 2000-compliant. He believes the second half of the year will be quieter as companies concentrate on testing. Other drivers will include new technology such as the Pentium III processor.
While PC prices will always come down, he doesn’t see them falling to the same extent as they did last year. That will mean profitability will increase for some PC vendors. Kumar also predicts another big year for consulting services, with the “Big 5” teaching companies how to implement, use and manage new products.
HP consumer business unit manager Mike Carden of Auckland expects 1999 will be reasonably strong. “[Success] is not just due to buying cycles and how much money is in the economy, it’s also about having an exciting retail offer. Last year there were a lot of things introduced into the market — DVD, Win98, Pentium II coming in to mainstream and Celeron chips — to actually stimulate the market.”
He says it looks like such trends will continue this year. The economy also seems to be coming out of recession. Carden says that even with last year’s recession, it still turned out to be a good year.
Christchurch-based PC Mania sales mana-ger Brian King says the prospects for 1999 look “a lot more positive” than last year. He expects some business this year to come from people’s uncertainty about year 2000 compliance of their existing PCs.