Analysts and other not disinterested observers have lately been trumpeting the end of the "PC era" and the looming obsolescence of the personal computer as an endpoint in the wake of the tablet revolution, but vendor Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) still sees resilience in the PC market, and has a new desktop offering targeted and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
Ironically, HP is one of the players backing away from the PC market with its stated intention earlier this year to either sell or spin-off its low-margin PC business to focus on higher-margin software and services opportunities. With a new CEO taking the helm of HP last week that strategy is up in the air, but in the interim, HP's Personal Systems Group continues to address the market opportunity.
Its latest offering, the HP Pro 3400 Series Microtower Business PC, is targeted at the SMB market, and is priced starting at $499.
"It's a refresh of our low-end SMB offering," said Peter Wong, category business manager for SMB with HP Canada. "It's a really aggressive price point to target the small office and home office market."
The 3400 supports the 2nd generation Intel Core processor technology and is available in i3, i5 and i7 configurations. It can support up to 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive, and also comes with HP's ProtectTools suite for SMBs and optional wireless.
"It has a different look than the last model," said Wong. "It's sleeker and shinier than the old box; we've updated the look."
Wong added that HP sees continued strong sales and demand for desktops, in both the SMB and enterprise components of the commercial market.
"We've found it a little surprising the desktop side has stayed fairly strong, given the move to mobility and tablets," said Wong. "I think customers are looking for something to stay in the office, so they don't need to worry about security. Some people don't see the perceived value of taking it from the desk."
Another factor, said Wong, is that desktops offer a robustness and expandability that laptops don't, with cheaper RAM and hard drive upgrades and more upgrade options around other components, such as the video card, that can allow a business to get more life out of a desktop than a laptop.
"We're still going to see desktops play a dominant role in the industry going forward," said Wong. "With the economy not doing well, businesses are looking for more value for their money.
The Q2 Canadian PC market shipment numbers from IDC Canada offer a note of caution, however. While the commercial market was strong overall with growth of 6.6 per cent, portable sales overtook desktop sales in the commercial space for the first time.
"If you go back two years it was 38.8 per cent for portables and now it's 51 per cent, so that's pretty significant," said Tim Brunt, senior analyst for personal computing with IDC Canada.
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