The Credit Crunch has seen a mobile PC sales boom, with robust growth in the US, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Matt Grainger takes a look at some of the devices that the forward thinking retailer can stock to take advantage of the trend towards mobility?


Sales of mobile PCs have boomed recently and it is clear that the laptop and netbook segments have been the driving force behind the PC market over the last few months. At the end of October, US quarterly laptop sales overtook desktop for the first time, claiming 55.2 per cent of total PC sales with a record 9.2 million units sold, according to research firm IDC.

"The laptop and notebook accessories market is experiencing rapid growth at the moment and we believe that this is set to continue for the foreseeable future," comments Ian Dunbar, operations officer at Meroncourt.

"The growth is partly due to the large numbers of these products that are being given away as incentives to sign mobile phone and broadband contracts and partly because people want the flexibility to use a computer at various locations."

"We see three dynamics driving the market at the moment," observes Logitech’s UK and Ireland regional director Yehia Oweiss. "Firstly, people are increasingly turning to notebooks in preference to the desktop computer – notebook shipments are tipping above desktop shipments across Europe.

"Secondly, most people spend their time on their notebook computer in and around the home – home mobility is an important and often overlooked trend that defines the kind of products people look for. Finally, the notebook computer has some inherent limitations, which peripherals can resolve such as small, low screens, cramped keyboards, tiny touchpads and low-quality speakers."

With such a shift in consumption patterns, it would be imprudent to overlook the potential for the laptop accessories segment.

Unlike desktop computers, most laptops do not usually ship with all the peripherals as part of a bundle; instead optional accessories can be bundled up as an extra incentive by the retailer, or alternatively provide an additional margin.

"Customers increase their spend in a shop when they see the benefits of a notebook product within easy reach, and which is easily affordable at the time of purchasing a notebook computer or shortly afterwards," says Oweiss.

"We see bags, mice and numeric keypads being bought at the time of purchase, while webcams, USB hubs, speakers, stands and headsets tend to be bought shortly afterwards. However, there is clearly a growing trend to buying numerous peripherals at the time of purchasing a notebook PC."

"Laptop and portable accessories are big business these days," concludes Dunbar. "They nearly always offer higher margins in percentage terms than the devices themselves. An increasing amount of people are using laptops for extended periods as replacements for desktop PCs, and very often they’ll buy a wide range of accessories to complement their new or existing laptop."

Targus sales director Sean O’Brien keeps an eye on accessories

What developments has Targus observed in the laptop market?
The laptop overtook the desktop PC last year and ever since then sales in laptop have been increasing at the expense of desktops. Whereas desktops show a minor growth figure, notebooks continue their 35 per cent plus year on year growth.

In the notebook sector, the netbooks have taken a significant share in a very short time. Favourably priced, they give consumers the freedom to go online and surf the net wherever they want, without the need to carry along a heavy laptop.

The trend for 2008 has definately been the netbook – ultra small and ultra light laptops specifically targeted at the consumer market. There seems to be only minimal cannibalization of these netbooks on laptop sales, making this is a great opportunity for additional margin.

Do you think retailers are taking advantage of the peripherals sector?
Where margins on laptops have been minimised over the years, peripherals always have been the key to generating a healthy margins for the retailer. Unfortunately attach rates in retail vary at around 15 to 20 per cent, meaning that there is a great opportunity for the retailer to increase that number and ensure a healthy margin for their business.

Targus emphasizes the need to educate the customer, and focus on good value product. Selling an entry-level notebook case might be a quick and easy sale, but it’s a missed chance to increase the margin and chances are the customer would be very interested in the features that mid to high range notebook cases would offer them.

What can retailers do to maximise the potential of peripherals?
Targus has incorporated a ‘Think Attach’ campaign and logo to create awareness among retailers of the benefits of selling peripherals with the laptop.

Customers are going to need a laptop sleeve or carry case to either carry around or store their laptop safely, as well as a mouse for extended use. Why not sell it while you have the customer in your store? When retailers do not sell these products along with the sale of a laptop, they will most definitely be purchased at a later point in time, the chances are that this will be elsewhere.

Power is one of the categories where Targus sees an ever increasing demand. People using their work laptop at home purchase a universal power supply, so they don’t have to carry the heavy accessory along. Targus also offers power adapters with ‘APS’ which enables the charging of mobile phones, PDAs’ and portable gaming devices, at home or in the car.

Key Products
Ultra Small Bluetooth 2.1 USB Adaptor
Interactive Ideas: 0208 805 1000/2999
SRP: £15.99

This ultra-small device adds Bluetooth wireless connectivity to any laptop or desktop PC. Upgraded design and components mean that the device offers an extended range of 25 metres and a sevenfold improvement in pairing times. Its gold-plated design results in high performance and an error free connection and the device can be plugged in without having to restart the PC.

120W and 70W Ultra Slimline Multi-Function Power Adaptor
Interactive Ideas: 0208 805 1000/2999
SRP: £62.99 (70W) £78.99 (120W)

With business increasingly being done on the move, Trust has developed a range of versatile laptop power adapters. These highly compact, slimline and efficient devices adapt power for use in the car or while on a plane. Compatible with almost every major notebook brand, the automatic voltage switching provides the correct power output without any manual adjustments and the devices can be used to recharge an iPod, SatNav or mobile phone.

Trust Street Style Messenger Bag
Interactive Ideas: 0208 805 1000/2999
SRP: 15.99

This stylish, weatherproof bag features a protective soft padded notebook compartment and zipper-locked front and back pockets to store laptop peripherals, mobile phones, digital music players, documents or stationary. The Street Style Messenger Bag can fit notebooks with screens up to 15.4 inches.

Retractable Mouse
Computer 2000:
SRP: £9.99

This handy device offers a versatile solution to the laptop user on the move. Powered by USB connection, its retractable cable stays untangled, stays out of the way and can be quickly stowed away. The device is compatible with a variety of operating systems including Windows 2000, XP and Vista, Mac OSX and Linux.

Mini Laptop Carrying Case
SRP: £14.99

Made with durable neoprene, this laptop carrying case protects the device from impacts or scratching in any environment. The design features a detachable strap, and exterior pockets provide extra storage for peripherals.

‘Whatever it takes’ laptop sleeve
SRP: £19.99

21st Century Leaders Foundation and its Whatever It Takes campaign have teamed up with Exspect to bring a range of celebrity endorsed peripherals to retail. The campaign is to create and sustain charitable projects that tackle key global development issues including poverty alleviation, environmental conservation and the protection of children and has gathered artworks from an extraordinary group of over 600 celebrity leaders representing each artist’s ‘message of hope’ for the future.

Kinetik 15.4 Briefcase
Computer 2000:
SRP: £49.90

Ideal for the professional user, the Briefcase protects a notebook with a lightweight exo-shell casing and padded sleeve. Expanding compartments provide easy access to the PC and other assets. Additional cargo bays and convenience pockets supply structured storage for any other valuables or peripherals.

Z5 USB Speakers
Computer 2000:
SRP: £69.99

Most laptops carry a pretty poor audio experience as standard, despite increasing numbers of them being able to support games. Logitech aims to fill this niche with the Z5 speaker system. Powered through a USB connection, its omnidirectional acoustic technology provides great sound throughout the room. The Z5 is compatible with both PCs and Macs.

V550 Nano Cordless Laser Mouse for Notebooks
SRP: £39.99

The V550 Nano provides an innovative addition to the laptop mouse sector with its easy-to-attach Clip and Go mouse dock that can be used with any notebook and its ultra-compact receiver is so small that it can be left in a port even when the laptop safely stowed in a bag. With up to 18 months of battery life, hyperfast scrolling and highly accurate tracking on any surface, the V550 is made for mobility.

Ceylon Messenger Bag
SRP: £34.99

Slim, lightweight and stylish the Ceylon Bag has multiple compartments, providing plenty of room for your laptop and accessories, and even has a concealed holder for an umbrella or water bottle. It has a soft plush inner lining to protect a laptop from scratches, but without adding extra weight to the bag.

The bag has easy to use magnetic enclosures so there are no fiddly buckles or zips to contend with and a hidden handle is incorporated for those occasions when it is more convenient to carry the bag at knee level. The Ceylon Messenger Bag comes in a range of colours to suit all tastes – black/light grey, dark grey/light blue and dark grey/lavender.

Laptop Cooling Hub
SRP: £32.99

The growing processor power of laptops has meant that provisions increasingly have to be made to keep the device from overheating. The unique design of Belkin’s laptop cooling hub improves airflow underneath the laptop, which is then further improved by a high-capacity cooling fan. The hub provides an additional four USB ports and an optional power supply for external hard drives.

Quickcam Pro for Notebooks
SRP: £69.99

This high definition camera features a twomegapixel sensor that can display images up to eight megapixels and its RightLight 2 technology automatically adjusts to allow for varying light levels. The glass lens was designed in collaboration with Carl Zeiss, the global leader in camera optics and its premium autofocus guarantees razor sharp imagery. The camera comes bundled with HP’s Photosmart Essential photo editing software.

CN-516 Micro-Bluetooth USB Adaptor
SRP: £8.99

The CN-516 allows the user to create a Bluetooth connection between a notebook and any wireless peripheral. Its Bluetooth 2.0 standard enables higher transfer speeds up to 3Mbps and makes new multitasking applications such as file sharing and printing possible simultaneously, within a wireless range of ten meters.

The CN-516 is backwards compatible and has a low power consumption, which makes this USB adapter perfectly suitable for mobile users. Due to its ultra compact format, the adapter can always stay plugged into a notebook.

Port Ergostation and four port USB Hub
Interactive Ideas:
RRP: £49.99

Designed to relieve neck, back or shoulder problems, the Port Ergostation has four adjustable positions, allowing the user to get the position just right. The Ergostation also comes with a four port USB 2.0 hub, which provides a universal docking solution.

Snappy Mobile USB Mouse
SRP: £4.99

With a compact design that is perfect for notebooks, the Snappy Mouse features an intensive colour and blue backlit scrollwheel, making it a real eyecatcher on any desktop. The high-resolution 800 dpi optical sensor ensures precise and fluid scanning and the device does not require the installation of any drivers, ensuring true plug and play functionality.

Explorer Mini Mouse
SRP: £49.99

This mouse pairs revolutionary tracking technology with a sophisticated design that brings it to life. A chrome trim and blue lighting around the bottom rim of the mouse create a soft glow and sets the device apart from anything else on the market. A right-handed, ergonomic design offers hours of comfortable use, and the 2.4GHz wireless technology delivers a reliable connection up to 30 feet away. The snap-in minitransceiver offers easy storage and mobility, allowing consumers to take their full-size mouse with them wherever they need it.

SL-6000 Notebook Bag
RRP: £8.99

This elegant notebook case has been designed for 15-inch and most 15.4-inch notebooks. Made from hard-wearing nylon, the case protects the notebook from damage caused by bumps. The main compartment is particularly well padded. An additional front compartment offers space for mobile phones, CDs, pens or business cards.

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