Survey: Reliability, price top PC buy factors

Both consumers and hardware makers identify reliability and price as top purchasing considerations for PCs and laptops, reveals ZDNet Asia poll. Manufacturers also working on tools to help better manage today's multi-device workplace.

Device reliability and attractive pricepoints have been identified by consumers in four Southeast Asian countries as the two most important factors when purchasing a PC or laptop for work. Manufacturers, too, are paying attention to these considerations as well as increasing efforts to introduce systems to better manage all devices entering the enterprise arena.

According to an online survey commissioned by Toshiba and Intel and conducted by ZDNet Asia, respondents in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand identified reliability and price as their top two considerations, while Indonesian consumers pointed to reliability and processor type.

In Singapore, 49 percent said reliability was the leading factor when purchasing a PC for their companies, while 45.5 percent in Malaysia and 36.5 percent in Thailand indicated likewise. Price was the No. 2 factor among 19 percent of Singaporeans and Malaysians, while 22 percent of Thais felt the same way.

About 29 percent of Indonesians agreed that reliability was the most important factor and 18.5 percent pointed to processor as the second-leading factor, the survey showed.

The poll was conducted in July and November this year, pulling in a total of 525 respondents.

PC makers have similar sentiments
PC makers that ZDNet Asia spoke to agreed with the survey findings.

Lee Chown How, country general manager of Lenovo Singapore, for one, said enterprise users are most concerned with business continuity so system reliability--which Lee associates with after-sales service and compatibility with current and future applications--is the most important PC purchasing factor.

"While price is a key factor in the buying decision, it is not the top reason for business users," he said, citing findings from Lenovo's internal study in December 2010 on corporate PC trends and buyer behavior.

Ng Tian Beng, managing director of South Asia and Korea at Dell, explained that reliability is a key factor because, with so many choices in the market today, the differentiator for enterprise laptop is its computing power as well as reliable vendor service which is necessary to deliver "the best end-user experience".

That said, Ng noted that the economic uncertainty and impending "double-dip" recession are placing pressure on companies to opt for systems with lower costs, both in the backend and frontend, putting price as a topmost concern.

"Given the pressure on CIOs to watch their pockets, it is not surprising that price is a key factor in the purchasing decision today for enterprise laptops," he said.

Giving a slightly different perspective on the price debate, Paul Donovan, vice president and general manager for product marketing at Hewlett-Packard Asia-Pacific and Japan's personal systems group, noted that while price is a key consideration, purchase decision is also dependent on user profile, affordability and usage model.

Elaborating, Donovan said some consumers shop for a blend of performance, storage and post-sales support. With these in mind, they then hit the stores to seek out the most affordable deal available, he noted.

Price, he added, does not always equate to value which can be represented by reliability, engineering and proprietary benefits.

In the enterprise space, IT procurement specialists will look at price as a variable out of a basket of decision points such as warranty, delivery timetable, leasing conditions, product lifecycle management and ease of manageability, among others, Donovan explained.

For one enterprise user, price is the least of his concerns.

With regard to his work laptop, Bob Kwek, a Singapore-based research and development engineer, cited the performance of the device in terms of hardware capabilities and reliability as the most important factors.

Kwek said he expects "at least 2 to 3 years of problem-free operation under heavy working conditions" from the system.

Device management critical
Dell's Ng also pointed out that the increasing trend of IT consumerization and highly mobile workforce mean additional complexity for organizations.

He noted that a strategy to address issues such as protecting access to employees' laptops and data stored in the device, as well as ways to insulate the organization from potential threats delivered via these laptops has become "critical".

Donovan concurred, adding that security and manageability are key considerations too. He said customers today expect technology offerings that protect their data, are easily deployed and implemented, and can be centrally managed.

In a previous ZDNet Asia report, an industry analyst pointed out that many IT administrators were still not doing much to manage the proliferation of consumer devices in the enterprise space. Richard Absalom, analyst of consumer IT at Ovum, noted that sticking to the same policies that did not allow employee-owned devices in the office would not work as users were likely to circumvent the restrictions.