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Five years later - PC Retail

Five years later

In an industry as dynamic and fast moving as ours, it's natural to keep an eye out for the next trend or world-shaking product. Andrew Wooden asks a panel of leading industry figures their predictions on the state of the market in five year's time?
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Gerald Grattoni, UK and Ireland Channel Sales and Marketing manager, Intel
"As with most industries, there are things that will be different and there are things that will be broadly the same. In such a multi-faceted industry, it is difficult to go into every specific thing, but themes such as energy-efficient performance, growth in the internet, the focus on rich media and so on, will stay the same. Industry changes tend to be evolutionary things, perhaps driven by revolutionary products.

The last five years have seen a shift to mobile computing, arguably driven by the introduction of Intel Centrino, which enabled powerful, more-connected, more-portable machines than ever before. In the next five years, the internet will likely become more mobile and more pervasive, both on-the-go and at home."

Richard Baker, Marketing Manager, AMD
"I think that one of the main differences will be the fact that desktops will no longer really exist outside of those who need either serious computer power (i.e. serious workstations) or with those who are self-build enthusiasts. After all, you can't tinker with your car engine any more, model train sets don't hold the same appeal as they did 50 years ago, but building the fastest, best looking, custom PCs will remain as popular – or even more popular – than ever.

Will the big companies even build desktops in five years time? Certainly, for the rest of us, 'good enough' computing will be the norm. Style, power use and noise will be far more important than processor speed, hard disk size or memory capacity. The consumer PC business will be far more targeted towards fashion, perhaps in much the same way as the mobile phone business works now."

Peter King, Office Server Group Manager, Microsoft Business Division

"The biggest trend over the next five years will be in the way people communicate and collaborate, coupled with how they will choose to consume solutions that provide such capabilities.

Unified communications and collaboration solutions such as Office Communication Server and SharePoint are enabling innovative enterprise quality solutions to be delivered with a broad range of capabilities, from social networking, web conferencing, document collaboration messaging and telephony all from a single environment access from the Office suite on your desktop.

This will be coupled with growth in the Software plus Services model, enabling consumer and business choice on how they consume their services. As we are already seeing today the balance of rich client desktop software, cloud based services and the ability to seamlessly blend services with those delivered on premise provides innovative ways that solutions can be delivered to users."

C Kohli, Managing Director of YOYOtech
"The old business adage is that in a maturing market, you need to get big, get specialised or get out. We've been feeling a slow polarisation within the market for around three years now. Specialist vendors like YOYOTech, with a clearly defined market and strategy are managing to expand operations, while at the same time many of the larger local vendors have suffered.

Recently, we've seen quotes from people like Eszter Morvay at IDC which say that the huge market movement toward global vendors and notebooks has left strong markets in focused areas like the gaming and enthusiast sectors, where quad-core CPUs and advanced graphic cards are the order of the day. My prediction for the key technology driver of 2013? It has to be the 3D internet."

Alastair Edwards, Senior Analyst, Canalys

"I think buying behaviour will continue to change over the next few years, particularly in the younger group of consumers, with more online purchasing, greater adoption of connected mobile devices, and a convergence of computing and entertainment devices in the home.

One of the most important factors will be the way content is delivered – content delivered over the web is certainly going to redefine the way it is consumed in the home, in that it is likely to become more distributed throughout the home rather than focused just in the living room. Retailers probably have to become more aware of the implications for their business, as consumers start to look for new form factors to support this.

That also includes meeting the demand for high-speed networks to support greater levels of in-home content sharing, for example." "The other thing we can expect is for service providers to become more important as content providers, and also as channels to market for IT hardware to the home. This will represent another potential threat to the traditional retail channel, as well as to existing terrestrial and satellite broadcasters.

Of course there are many barriers to a truly networked home which will have to be overcome in the next few years, including better interoperability of networked consumer electronic devices and a relaxation of restrictive DRM protocols by content owners. It will take at least five years, if not longer, for these issues to be resolved, and for some of these emerging trends to move mainstream."

Michael Breeze, Marketing Director, Interactive Ideas
"For hardware devices, I believe consumers know what they want and won't pay over the odds for features they either don't understand or will never use. The market will continue to split into high-end devices for markets such as gaming and designers, and lower-end products that will be driven by cost with devices for the consumer that only require the basic functions.

Many of the netbooks run on an open source operating system and more open source software will be used to strip out the costs of office suites and antivirus on basic devices to drive down the price.

The IT and telecoms industries will continue to become increasingly interlinked, with the consumer choosing the device and brand that is most suitable for their lifestyle. With the mobile phone operators such as O2 and Orange having strong brands, a large networks of shops and the knowledge of how to link up netbooks, laptops and mobiles such as the iPhone to the internet from anywhere, they will be key."

Mike Scott, Sales Manager, Medea
"I think to be honest it will be fairly the same. The largest companies representing the largest corporations and the most well known brands will continue to chase hardest for the business which ultimately makes them the least margin.

Then they go bust, so the next level disties can chase to step up to the challenge to copy the model that made their predecessor go bust. It's been a model followed for the last nine years I have been in the industry, so I can't see it changing now. Who knows, maybe in five years, the Chinese manufacturers will finally accomplish their mission and be selling direct-to-end user from Hong Kong."

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