PCs are not dead, says HP

2013-04-05 09:48
Thibault Dousson says HP is considering a variety of strategies to build the brand. (HP)

Thibault Dousson says HP is considering a variety of strategies to build the brand. (HP)

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Cape Town - The growth of tablets and smart devices does not mean that the PC market is dead, a manufacturer has claimed.

According to research firm Gartner, the traditional PC market will see a 7.6% decline in 2013 to 315 million units and tablet shipments are expected to jump by 69.8%.

Hewlett-Packard is determined to refocus its business on technology and SA country manager Thibault Dousson said that the company was considering a variety of strategies to build the brand.

He told News24 that tablets will form a part of a new technology push and the company is intent on bringing its Slate 7 to SA this year.

News24: With the growth of mobile devices, is it correct to say the desktop PC market is dead?
Thibault Dousson: In 2012 the number of PCs sold was 325 million units, which indicates a decline of about 3% in volume, fair enough, but it's only the third time since 1985 that the PC market has declined.

So I am not sure we can claim that the PC market is dead. Just because there are new form factors out there does not necessarily mean that the PC will disappear.

It’s almost like saying that motorbikes will replace bicycles, quite the opposite to what I experience every Sunday morning in Fourways.

News24: How can HP re-energise itself to capture increasingly mobile consumers in the post-PC age?
Dousson: Well, I believe that the trick is for HP to continue embracing new technologies and form factors. The majority of African mobile users connect to the Internet via their phones and we have also seen that South Africans really enjoy tablets and that their preferred method of connectivity is 3G.

So, if we continue to invest in research and development, we will be able to meet and exceed our consumers’ needs and continue to invest in new platforms and exciting state of the art technologies. .

News24: Do you see a near computer future dominated by ultrabooks, slates or tablets?

Dousson: I actually believe that the future will be a combination of these three and even more. You know, I really can’t wait to see what the future holds especially for flexible display.
Imagine an A4 page of paper that you can use as a notebook, fold in two and then you have a tablet, fold it again and then you have a phone, fold it again then you have an electronic wallet. That would be pretty sweet.

If we continue to push the technology just a little further and the imagination of our research and development department, you never know what we might come up with but it sure is exciting!

News24: Is HP looking at developing a new smartphone?
Dousson: Our CEO, Meg Whitman, said in a recent interview that we should do so but more importantly that we need to get it right.

As I mentioned earlier, a lot of people rely on their phone to connect to the internet. If we want to be a serious player we have got to be there.

News24: Is HP intent on bringing the Slate 7 to developing markets should it launch in April?

Dousson: We are indeed launching the Slate 7 in South Africa. It should be shipped around May this year. It will be nice to play in this market as that form factor is the fastest growing in the tablet market.

News24: What, in your view, is the ‘next big thing’ in digital technology?
Dousson: Apart from new form factors, I believe Near Field Communication (NFC) will change our life, especially when used as a payment tool.

With the effective use of big data there is no limit to how far it will go, we could even start using it as a service. For example, in the insurance industry your insurance company could start charging you in direct proportion to how safely you drive.

For those concerned with their health, capturing and sharing data on how healthy you are could prevent a stroke. Or take busy moms for instance; their life would be made a whole lot easier with the help of a smart appliance like a fridge that tells you what to buy for the meal you want to cook, all the while considering what you have in your fridge already.

News24: What are the biggest challenges in establishing manufacturing plants in SA?
Dousson: The most common misconception is the lack of skilled labour but this is not true.
In 2005 HP had an assembly plant here in South Africa which was working very well, and more importantly, the quality of our building was superior to that of our European counterparts.

However, we soon realised that in reality, we were just not competitive enough and that wasn’t due to our labour cost, but to the organisations overall labour cost and lack of ecosystem.
The cost associated with shipping the panel to manufacture a laptop here would have be so expensive that we wouldn't have been competitive enough when it came to the finished product.

So in order to be competitive and be able to manufacture efficiently and economically, one would need to bring the manufacturer of the actual panels to the country, as well as the various components (memory, CPU, etc.)

News24: Does SA have adequate technology skills to support a vibrant IT sector?

Dousson: Of course we do! And it’s getting better every year. We support various graduate programmes and I see the quality of people that are coming through every year, it’s really impressive.

I can’t wait to see how well South Africa does over the next 15 to 20 years. We are part of Brics; we are the future of economic growth and success.

News24: Are the correct policies in place to grow the IT sector in SA?
Dousson: I think so but like most things in life, I believe we can do more. We need to look at bringing out the big manufacturing OEMs and start producing for Africa.

We also have to attract foreign investment faster and on a much bigger scale. South Africa has everything it needs to succeed, we just need to push a little bit harder and work a little bit faster.
Read more on:    technology  |  computing

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