So I was looking through the quarterly PC “I shipped more than you shipped” results from IDC and the like. The headlines are screaming out about whether Dell beat HP or HP beat Dell; it’s all very self-satisfying for the winner each quarter no doubt. Except that really, who cares?
While PC sales can sometimes be a good indication of how a company, and indeed the market, are performing, in reality, as every margin-stretched VAR knows, PCs and indeed to some extent, hardware, are effectively dead.
Margins are tighter and tighter and PCs are no longer practically being given away, they are being given away (a broadband company in the U.K. is offering a free laptop if users sign up for 18 months of broadband with it).
Fighting over the scraps of what is essentially a dying business should be above the likes of both Dell and HP. Except that for these guys, the PC is still some of their bread-and-butter earnings and they can’t afford to let it drop. So the battle continues. Meanwhile, in the profit-rich, margin-making software sector, IBM, Oracle and SAP, to name just a few, are concerning themselves with bigger, better and bolder technologies, such as software as a service, CRM, ERP and any number of what could be the next killer apps.
So while Dell and HP and their rivals scrap it out in the playground of PCs and hardware, the companies in the know are getting on with buying up the little software companies, left right and indeed center, and providing clients with the right software to keep their business competitive. After all, when was the last time you heard a CIO say his new PC or server has kept his company ahead of its rivals?