Malaysia's untapped small-business PC market

The need to stay productive on the road is driving demand for notebook computers among small businesses, according to new research.

One in three small businesses in Malaysia plan to purchase a PC in the next 12 months, according to AMI-Partner's latest report.

In terms of form factor, the majority plan to buy a desktop computer as their first PC, while a quarter prefer notebook computers, the report revealed.

Jackie Chan, a senior analyst at AMI-Partners, cited affordability as one reason for the growing preference for notebook computers. "The increasing preference is due to, one, decreasing price points; and, two, the trend towards mobility and portability," she told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail.

"The proliferating use of wireless technologies is due to increasing demand for mobile employees to stay productive on the road," she added. "Staff can easily move around and about, even within the same office location."

According to AMI-Partners, 66 percent of the 430,000 small businesses in Malaysia have bought a PC. Those that own computers employ more staff and generate more than half of the sales turnover than those that have not jumped on the IT bandwagon.

On average, small businesses that have computers employ 11 staff, while those that have not adopted basic computer systems have about five staff members.

"Small firms that have yet to own a PC tend to be smaller companies and are often in the retail sector," said Chan.

Small businesses in Malaysia spent over US$1.2 million on IT in 2005, 28 percent of which was used to purchase desktop and notebook computers, said the New York-based research firm.

This spending is projected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 8 percent by 2010, according to AMI-Partners.