Cautious outlook for Xmas PC sales

Market observers are hedging their bets on New Zealand PC sales this Christmas.

The Christmas PC market is not something anyone wants to make a bet on after last year’s great predictions and disappointing sales.

This year everyone is a lot more cautious, although Graham Penn, New Zealand manager of market researcher IDC, says he expects the market will be flat. “Fundamentally the market size is the same as last Christmas, which doesn’t mean the market isn’t there, but there has been no huge growth in units.”

Penn says it will depend on which vendor is able to make a major swing in the market, as many have the same features and price points. In the business arena, Compaq is doing well--and better than last year, according to Penn. Compaq marketing manager Tony Lambert agrees, saying he thinks the fourth quarter looks reasonably good for his company.

“We’re very happy with how things are going. It’s better than last year. Last year there was a bit of indigestion left over from the huge year everyone had the year before.”

From the state of their current consumer sales, Lambert thinks the consumer market will also be kind to Compaq over Christmas.

Penn sees Acer, HP and Mitac also being fairly steady earners in the consumer market this Christmas. Overall, he says, the most optimistic prediction he can give at this point is for sales to reach last year’s numbers. “The market has been a little light.”

The big question, however, with new technologies on the horizon, is will consumers want to buy their PCs now anyway? Unless there is strong pressure being brought to bear on the head of the household by children wanting a computer in their Christmas stocking, once consumers hear about MMX being due next year and making most multimedia PCs on the market obsolete, they may hold off purchasing until around April.

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