White-box brands muscle in on SMBs

The battle for small business PC customers has intensified in the past year with significant inroads being made by white-box producers, according to an analyst report.

Kourosh Ghassemi, an IDC analyst for small business and vertical markets, said multiple brand ownership is typical of small businesses. This willingness to shop around presents a challenge for the channel to keep existing customers, and also an opportunity to gain new ones.

In the past 12 months, the popularity of direct channel distribution has increased. IDC believes those PC vendors that can link the channel value-add and PC brand value-add will have the edge in attracting and retaining customers.

According to IDC's research, there are four main influences on the buying criteria for PCs in small businesses: desired features and capabilities; warranty, service and support; past experience with the brand; and competitive price.

Ghassemi said for the channel this means doing the job effectively, reliably and affordably. "With PCs becoming cheaper and cheaper due to the intense competition in the industry, the first two factors have become even more important. Any product that can meet these criteria will be on the list of acceptable brands," he said.

Ghassemi also believes the channel should focus on the fastest growing verticals and highest purchase intentions over the next 12 months, as most SMBs own at least one PC and will be looking to add to that.

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