Solution Providers: PC Refresh Cycles Stretch to Five Years

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

As the recession stretches into 2009, companies are pushing their PC refresh cycles out to five years, according to solution providers contacted by Channel Insider. That's bad news for PC and server makers Dell, HP and Lenovo, but represents a different kind of opportunity for savvy solution providers.

What if five years is the new normal in terms of PC refresh cycles? It's not such an outrageous idea, according to solution providers and analysts contacted by Channel Insider.

Pushed by the performance requirements of new software and the increasing performance of hardware driven by Moore's Law, PCs in many corporations have typically been replaced every three years or so.

But with the recession in 2008, many businesses pushed out their PC refresh cycles for another year, and the uncertainty around 2009 is showing that new purchases may again be pushed off for yet another year. 

So the question becomes, how far can these cycles be pushed out, and will five years become the new normal for PC refresh cycles?

"No question small businesses are pushing their refresh dates out and have implemented a freeze on spending," says Robert Buchanan at solution provider Archer Integration in Mechanicsville, Va. "They are more concerned with reducing costs and attempting to hold onto their essential staff versus refreshing PCs. Only when a machine has failed beyond the cost of repair are firms considering replacing, and they typically are replacing them with a PC from a stockpile no longer used by former employees."

Buchanan says that while three years has been the typical refresh cycle and still remains the standard for many companies, others are buying equipment with five-year warranties with the intent of extending the cycle to five years.

"Until there is an event to trigger refreshing sooner, and Microsoft Vista has not been the catalyst for small business, I believe we will continue to see a longer cycle," Buchanan adds.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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