PC vendors court small biz

There's not a vendor out there that doesn't want a good sized piece of the small business PC market. The result is that virtually every major vendor has built programs and unleashed marketing campaigns to get the small business buyer into their corner.

There's not a vendor out there that doesn't want a good sized piece of the small business PC market. The result is that virtually every major vendor has built programs and unleashed marketing campaigns to get the small business buyer into their corner.

Here at Ziff Davis Market Intelligence, we look at small business buying habits both from a company wide perspective, as well as from an individual perspective. The latest data on what PC brand individuals who work in small businesses plan to buy shows an interesting set of trends.

It's clear when looking at how small businesses plan to buy PCs, that going direct is a huge advantage. Gateway and Dell increased their planned purchase levels significantly from the survey that occurred only eight months ago.

Small business people are clearly inclined to buy directly, and have the confidence that they are going to make the right decision. In addition, these two firms have added even more value small business with leasing and alternative financing plans.

In fact, it is likely that data such as this has created a growing urgency among Compaq, HP, and IBM to build and really go into the manufacturer direct business.

It's also significant that the "clone" products have also increased. This shows the other end of the "direct" channel where small VARs and mail order firms are building products that are often called "white boxes" for their lack of name. These products are traditionally strong sellers in the small business market, and that's a testament to small businesses' belief in the VARs and resellers that stand behind such products.

Clearly the battle lines are drawn, and small businesses are telling the PC vendors and resellers that they want to buy products where they have a relationship with the manufacturer or builder that is more than a distant arm's length. As the direct model becomes more attractive to small business, big reseller brands are countering with direct strategies of their own.

Top Brand Purchases as of August 1998.
Gateway -- 22.8%
Clone -- 15.4%
Compaq -- 12.0%
Apple -- 6.5%
IBM -- 2.6%
Dell -- 9.7%