Opinion

Staying afloat

It could be a make or break first quarter for many businesses in the New Year. For the IT channel, likewise, this could be a testing time as they grapple with slowing sales and a need for inspiration.  This is a time that they really need the support from vendors but many vendors themselves are looking a bit stretched with less than satisfying financial results over the year. Unchartered waters ahead could be best negotiated with focusing as much attention to market trends, to try and understand what is likely to sell more. Quite likely, buyers will try and make more informed choices this year based on features and based on what they really need, more than ever before.

Going green and energy efficiency are already among major themes for the industry which also tie in easily with concerns to save costs. This will be true of technologies and products for enterprises as well for consumers to a lesser extent.
Rollout of new technologies and products is also a way to lure consumers to spend money. This has been true over the years in the DRAM market, where companies are focused on trying to get DDR3 out as quickly as they can. They have to get motherboard, chipset and microprocessor companies on board to support new memory chips, so that’s what is slowing them down. DDR3 is looking poised to become the mainstream DRAM chip in 2009, especially with new generation applications that need powerful memory chips to execute seamlessly.
Netbook is a category that made its advent in the latter half of the year and most top tier manufacturers now offer these devices. This is also a category that could see unbridled growth, because of the lower prices and compact form. Prices could fall further as the segment gathers critical mass in volumes and components become less expensive for manufacturers. The prospect of netbooks eating into entry level notebook markets is quite real but simultaneously it may really expand the market. According to IDC netbook PCs expand the market but threaten notebook pricing and margins.
One of the products that will build up anticipation during the year will be Windows 7. Microsoft hasn’t announced a launch date for Windows 7, and while earlier indications were that it would be out in early 2010, company executives have recently hinted that it could be out around the end of 2009. Continued sluggish adoption of Vista and ongoing inroads by Linux, notably in the low-priced PC market may force Microsoft to advance the launch date.  On the other hand, this could be a good year for Linux in its various manifestations but organised brands like Red Hat would have a definite advantage. Linux loaded notebooks will become a more common sight at retail outlets these notebooks may see higher shipments this year.
It will also be a year when vendors and their channels will seek alternative markets for their existing product lines. This also means that there will be no lack of action in 2009.

2009 could be a make or break year for many businesses

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