Intel to SMBs: Don't hold off PC refresh

Security risks and maintenance costs may make older desktops and notebooks more expensive than new machines, chipmaker points out.

Chip giant Intel has urged small and midsize businesses (SMBs) to avoid lengthening their PC refresh cycles as a cost-cutting measure during the recession, reiterating that security risk and maintenance bills could cost companies more than if they were to purchase new PCs.

The call came after a recent study found that 43 percent of medium-sized businesses and 26 percent of small businesses intend to delay their PC upgrade plans. The study, conducted by market research consultancy Techaisle between February and March, involved 630 companies in seven countries--Australia, Brazil, China, India, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.

According to Techaisle, desktops that have been in use for over three years are 28 percent more likely to be attacked by a virus, than those that have been used for less than three years. In the case of notebooks, older machines were 58 percent more likely to suffer a virus attack. Older desktops and notebooks were also likely to have greater downtime from virus incidents, compared with newer systems.

In addition, 49 percent of SMBs experience power supply failure on PCs that are older than three years, compared to only 11 percent for machines with a shorter lifespan. Hard drive failure also affected 33 percent of SMBs with older PCs, compared to 8 percent for newer systems.

Techaisle also found that for older PCs, small businesses spend an average annual maintenance cost of US$545, while medium-sized businesses fork out US$709.

Citing a separate report from J. Gold Associates, Robert Crooke, general manager and vice president of Intel's business client group, pointed out that PCs in their first year cost an average of US$126 in repair costs. With competitively priced PCs that start from around US$540 for a desktop, SMBs could benefit from having their maintenance costs lowered and having systems that are less susceptible to virus attacks, he said Friday in a Web briefing with Asia-Pacific media.

"Customers are taking a risk in [delaying refreshes]--they're more likely to be attacked by viruses on their notebooks and desktops, experience system failures, and maintenance costs are going to go up," noted Crooke.

Tony Liao, assistant vice president of sales and marketing at Taiwanese hardware vendor Gigabyte, noted that many SMBs did not upgrade to Windows Vista from Windows XP, so there had been a gap in the PC refresh cycle. However, with the more "user-friendly" Windows 7 due to launch later this year, SMBs would be "looking to upgrade" their systems, he said.

Techaisle research showed that over half of the SMBs surveyed are already in or about to enter a phase of higher maintenance costs.

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