PC survey of SMBs indicates optimistic outlook

PC sales projected to increase this year based on survey of SMBs suggesting optimistic economic outlook.

A survey conducted by The NPD Group projects that 77 percent of SMBs are planning to spend more, or at least the same, on new PC hardware in 2010 compared to 2009 PC spending. The SMB Technology Report suggests that the increased PC spending is a harbinger of a better economy--driven by new business and new hires.

The NPD survey--conducted during the month of April, 2010--was targeted at businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees. The survey received responses from 250 LinkedIn members who indicated that they are IT decision makers capable of influencing PC hardware purchasing decisions for their respective organizations.

More than half of the respondents stated that expected increases in PC purchasing are being driven by new growth and business opportunities, with more than four in ten suggesting that the additional PC hardware will be needed to support new hires. Following years of economic malaise, it is inspiring to see SMBs with an optimistic outlook for new business and job creation in 2010.

"PCs are clearly an important target for corporate spending in 2010," said Stephen Baker vice president of industry analysis at NPD in a press release announcing the SMB Technology Report. "Continuing to maintain and upgrade technology was cited by 70 percent of PC buyers as a key consideration for SMB buying in 2010 after cutting back in 2009. And since most of the pause in buying came from larger firms, 80 percent of firms with more than 200 employees intend to buy PCs in 2010 to help maintain their corporate infrastructure."

The uplifting survey results are tempered by the continued fragility of the economy for some SMBs. The survey found that 23 percent plan to reduce PC spending in 2010. Of the firms predicting PC spending cuts, 38 percent are reducing spending due to budget cuts, while 18 percent will be cutting jobs.

Baker examined the study in more detail in a blog post, "Digging deeper we saw that PC upgrade intentions are very different by company size. Almost 80 percent of companies with more than 200 employees planned to spend on PCs as part of a long-term plan to upgrade equipment, a clear sign that Windows 7 is creating interest in larger firms. Conversely, only 65 percent of firms with less than 50 employees intended to upgrade for that reason."

Take that last part with a grain of salt, though. Put in context, it may be a result of the fact that 75 percent of the companies with fewer than 50 employees indicated that they already upgraded in 2009.

Larger organizations--many driven by a philosophy not to adopt a new OS until it reaches SP1--are ramping up to embrace Windows 7 in 2010. The push to Windows 7 may also be a result of the clock ticking down on official support of Windows XP from Microsoft.

As more enterprises deploy Windows 7, PC hardware sales and Internet Explorer 8 market share will both increase accordingly as well.

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Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
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