Local PC sales up, despite downturn

Despite the downturn in the Asia--Pacific region, New Zealand PC sales remained high in the first quarter of 1998, according to IDC Research. 'For the first quarter New Zealand was actually 18.7% up on the same time last year,' says Pat Pilcher, an analyst with IDC. Recent results from US analysts Dataquest see the rest of Asia-Pacific down by 20% over first-quarter results last year.

Despite the downturn in the Asia--Pacific region, New Zealand PC sales remained high in the first quarter of 1998, according to IDC Research.

"For the first quarter New Zealand was actually 18.7% up on the same time last year," says Pat Pilcher, an analyst with IDC.

Recent results from US analysts Dataquest see the rest of Asia-Pacific down by 20% over first-quarter results last year.

"The impact of the Asian economic crisis was even more dramatic than in preceding quarters," says Dataquest senior analyst Bruce McCabe. He expects full recovery of the IT markets in the region to take up to two years to recover.

But Pilcher believes the New Zealand situation is different to the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.

"Australia and New Zealand are a bit of an aberration. New Zealand is a more mature IT economy. We've had our boom years and the market's gradually shifting into a replacement phase." He says that many of the Asia-Pacific countries have areas that are largely under-developed, and that impacts on their overall IT strengths.

"There are big disparities throughout the region in terms of the developed state of each nation." Dataquest's figures back up Pilcher's comments — those countries which suffered the most in terms of growth are the least developed: Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, which saw a drop of 82% on the 1997 results.

Australia dropped by 6%, while the best result was from China with 21% growth, taking it to second place with $US715 million in revenue. Australia still leads the pack with $US771 million. Japan isn't included in the results as it is considered separately.

IDC's figures saw 53,800 units sold in the first quarter, compared with 45,340 in the first quarter of 1997.

But Pilcher is concerned that the economic problems in Asia will eventually trickle down to New Zealand and we may see a downturn in the near future.

"There are a number of large outfits around the country planning to put major IT projects on hold." Pilcher says this is due to the Asian crisis but also because of the problems with New Zealand's dollar.

"All of the main vendors say they're not raising their prices in the immediate future, but if the dollar keeps falling, how long can they hold out?" Pilcher believes the New Zealand PC market has such tight margins that it cannot sustain current prices for long.

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