PC makers in North America and Europe may be worried, but local experts say the delayed launch of Windows Vista isn’t likely to have much effect on New Zealand sales.
If anything, they’re saying the delay is more likely to boost demand, even though many Kiwi consumers will still be at the bach when the next-generation operating system first goes on sale.
Last month, Microsoft announced that while business versions of Vista will go on sale in November as planned, consumer versions will be delayed until January.
Shortly after Microsoft’s announcement the share prices of some big PC makers dipped in response to the news. One US analyst predicted the delay would cut this calendar year’s projected PC sales by as much as 2% — that’s not a large figure in itself but it’s significant considering the shortfall would take place in a single month.
America’s holiday season, which runs from Thanksgiving in late November to Christmas, has traditionally been an important sales period for US PC makers. Microsoft originally planned to release the consumer versions of Vista in November, which many believed would stimulate demand.
IDC senior analyst Liam Gunson says, “In New Zealand we’re not expecting the delay to have any significant effect on hardware sales, because we weren’t expecting the launch to have much of a positive effect.”
Gunson says other factors are likely to have more impact. He says economic matters, particularly the falling dollar, could slow sales later this year. “The launch of Intel’s dual core and Windows Vista may possibly limit any contraction in sales, but these events were never likely to generate large spikes in shipments.”
However, while Gunson says Vista isn’t going to generate sales, its appearance will influence when some sales take place. “We expect it to bring forward some purchases,” he says.
Consumers and small business owners are the two groups most likely to make an early move to a new operating system. Gunson says in recent years the first quarter of a new year has been just as strong as the last quarter for sales to these markets.
David Rayner, Windows client product marketing manager Microsoft New Zealand, takes this a step further. He says that if Microsoft launched Vista in November, there would be a big initial marketing campaign, but it would lose momentum as the country went into its long summer break.
“The good thing about launching in January is that we can extend the sales excitement through Q1,” he says.
And Rayner is expecting a lot of excitement, particularly with consumers. He says they have a lot of incentive to upgrade to the new operating system. “There are a lot of good features in Vista which are not in XP. For example, the Media Centre, the security and the parental controls.”
He says another advantage of the new January launch date is that it will fall in summer, “It will make life a lot more pleasant when we launch.”