2008: The Year That Was Pt 2 - PC Retail

2008: The Year That Was Pt 2

In the first of a two-part feature, we take a look back at the events and news that made 2008 one of the most important in the channel's history. Today, Andrew Wooden take a look at the first half of the year?
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July

There had been speculation for a while, but the fears of recession got serious in July. However, at the same time a raft of global technology firms, including Microsoft, Intel, IBM and Ingram Micro, posted quarterly results which showed significant growth.

The news emerged that EMEA PC shipments smashed expectations during Q2, with a 24.5 per cent growth overall and a staggering 53 per cent growth in laptops. This prompted many industry watchdogs to ask whether the PC industry was immune to the Credit Crunch.

The ever-growing strength of netbooks was also highlighted during this month as it was revealed the sub- £500 price point represented 78 per cent of PC sales during this period – but fears remained from retail about a market swamped with product that it struggled to make a profit on.

The ever controversial WEEE directive passed its first anniversary, and the government began ramping up pressure to comply, while trade bodies warned retailers of the dangers of not doing so.

Elsewhere, BT pledged £1.5 million to revamp the UK's broadband infrastructure, and the 3G iPhone broke the three million sales mark.

August

Nvidia's ambitious Nvision event kicked off in August, taking place across practically the whole of the city of San Jose in the US.

The show's mission statement was to promote the idea of 'visual computing' – that is, computing which relies more on graphics processors and parallel architecture than a CPU.

The show, which featured speeches and presentations on how graphical technology can be applied to increasingly varied aspects of the modern world, was attended by a massively wide ranging set of visitors – from steel industry representatives to medical professionals and NASA scientists.

However, many will remember the event most for the appearance of Tricia Helfer, who is best known for her role as an attractive human-looking robot in the remake of Battlestar Galactica.

On the graphical theme, Intel unveiled more details of its Nvidia/ATi rivalling Larrabee project during August, adding to the speculation of a full on war between the three firms in the future.

Elsewhere, IBM unveiled its plan to go Windows-free in the next few years, and German buying group Synaxon announced its entry into the UK channel.

September

After a difficult year full of painful financial reports and a certain US rival squaring up from across the Atlantic, DSGi's planned refit and rebranding began to take serious shape in September, with the unveiling of a new megastore and the news that 25 sites across the country were to be refitted with a new look and layout in time for Christmas.

Ingram Micro's very own trade show Retail Expo returned for a second year, this time hitting Islington with its entourage of 35 vendor exhibitors. While lacking the scale of the previous year's Wembley Stadium venue, the event was praised for its practicality in terms of getting to and from the venue.

In a riposte to Apple's 'Mac and PC' ads, Microsoft threw millions into a campaign looking to dismantle the dull, suited stereotype of a PC user, utilising TV funny man Jerry Seinfeld and a versatile host of PC users including hip hop stars and deep sea divers.

October

After months of drip-feed information and speculation, Best Buy finally gave concrete details of its European invasion plans. It was announced between 100 and 200 megastores would be hitting the continent by 2013 – the majority of them in the UK.

After an extensive phone briefing to the UK press, the retailer and its European ally The Carphone Warehouse unveiled a plan to fill the gap of what it saw as a lack of good customer care in European IT retail.

Microsoft released details of its Azure software, based on cloud computing and essentially taking its cue from programs such as Google Docs and Hotmail. The technology would allow users to relinquish an optional amount of program running and storage to the internet.

Elsewhere AMD and Nvidia celebrated a 22.5 per cent growth in GPU market during October, following various rival product launches.

November

Carphone Warehouse claimed ten per cent of the laptop market after only six months in the sector. The move came as a clear indicator of just how integral netbook sales are to the prosperity of the PC market, since the retailer more or less exclusively deals in free or heavily discounted machines with broadband contracts.

Microsoft put an end to the ongoing saga of the potential acquisition of Yahoo, with CEO Steve Ballmer stating it was no longer interested in a takeover deal – even after the Yahoo's CEO made a public statement saying: "We're willing to sell the company."

December

While hindsight is always 20/20, we're afraid the same can't be said for foresight.

It would be foolish (and potentially libellous) to make some wild stabs in the dark in terms of corporate movements, but if we were to make a prediction for the last month of 2008, we'd say while there's no doubt that this Christmas is going to be a little tighter for retailers than previous years, sales on lower cost items such as accessories or peripherals will provide a much needed profit boost.

To the read the first part of this feature, click here.

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