VOL. 111 | NO. 234 | Wednesday, December 17, 1997
Dataquest reports increase
in number of U.S. households
planning to purchase a PC; survey shows
43 percent of U.S. households have a PC
By CAMILLE H. GAMBLE
The Daily News
A survey among U.S. households during October and November shows 10.2 percent of U.S. households plan to purchase a personal computer within the next six months, according to Dataquest, a market research unit of Gartner Group Inc.
This is an increase of 1.5 million households from last falls survey of households intending to purchase a PC within six months. Of those surveyed, childrens educational use and Internet access were strong drivers of the intent to purchase.
"There has been a strong shift in PC purchase intention to the near term," said Van Baker, Dataquests director of consumer research. "This supports strong near-term growth in the U.S. home PC market."
The latest figures from Dataquest show 43 percent of U.S. households have a PC. This is an increase from 35 percent in the fall 1996 survey. A driving force in the home market has been the sub-$1,000 PCs.
"The pricing dynamics in the U.S. consumer PC market have clearly increased purchase intent," said Scott Miller, senior industry analyst for Dataquests Personal Computer Worldwide program.
"Dataquests research has shown that the pricing umbrella at the high end of the U.S. consumer market has collapsed. Few of the PCs being purchased by consumers today have a price above $2,000. This reduction of the price range has accelerated consumer PC purchases."
Lee Cooper, president of Memphis-based Cooper Systems Inc., said sales are up at his business in the home-based PC sector. He said this year people look for many different features when buying a PC.
"They want a fast, reliable modem first of all," Cooper said. "They also look for Pentium technology, 200 megahertz or above, 32 megs of RAM or more and a multimedia modem."
Cooper said consumers are buying bigger monitors this year compared to a year ago.
"Instead of a 14-inch monitor a lot of people are buying the 15-inch and 17-inch monitors," he said. "The prices have come down dramatically. You can get more bang for your buck now. You can buy a 15-inch monitor today for the same price as a 14-inch sold for last year."
Cooper said, in addition to Internet and educational uses, people are buying PCs this year for home-based business purposes.
"You see more and more people starting home businesses in addition to regular careers," he said.
Reggie Braddock, owner of Memphis-based American Computer Solutions, said his business is up 20 percent from this time last year. But Braddock said he believes the driving force behind buying a new computer is not the Internet or education but games.
Braddock said the people who buy PCs may say they are buying a computer so their children will have a head start in school, but the computer sometimes turns into a compact video game room.
"I dont care what people say, the majority of them are playing games," Braddock said.
He added that the game and entertainment software industry fuels the need to upgrade.
"The business and education software never changes," Braddock said. "If you buy it today, you can usually run it on an old machine.
"But the latest and greatest versions of Dungeons and Dragons come out every three or four months," he said. "All of a sudden that shiny new computer you bought a year and half ago is not fast enough."
Braddock said when computer games were becoming more popular a few years ago, a typical game used about four megabytes of space on a computer.
"You could load 50 games on a computer," he said. "Today, the minimum CD-ROM game needs about 100 to 200 megabytes of space just to load."
Another aspect of the computer market is picking up speed in 1997 the handheld market.
The worldwide handheld market grew during the first half of this year with shipments reaching 1.4 million units, which approaches 1996s year-end total of 1.6 million shipments, according to Dataquest.
The markets growth was led by the standard handheld market, which shipped 842,000 units. The standard handheld market was driven by the success of 3Coms PalmPilot, which maintained 66 percent market share for the first half of 1997. Windows CE-based handheld PCs garnered 20 percent of the standard handheld market in the first half of 1997.
Expandable organizer shipments accounted for 39 percent of the worldwide handheld shipments in the first half of 1997. The expandable organizer market has declined as the standard handheld market continues to grow. At the end of 1996, the expandable organizer market maintained 51 percent of the overall handheld market while the standard handheld category had 49 percent of the market.
Standard handheld computers and expandable organizers are subsets of the larger handheld market. Standard handhelds are general purpose computers that are distinguished from organizers by their adherence to hardware and software compatibility standards. They typically measure 4 x 7 x 1 inches and weigh about a pound.
Expandable organizers are general purpose computers that are distinguished by the ability to add applications and memory. The expansion is typically proprietary to a particular device or device family. Organizers measure approximately 3 x 6 x 0.75 inches, weigh less than one pound, have a keyboard and operate on batteries.
Dataquest, founded in 1971, is a global market research and consulting company serving the high-technology and financial communities. The company provides worldwide market coverage on the semiconductor, computer systems and peripherals, communications, document management, software and services sectors of the information technology industry.