Notebooks are the hot item in the channel, with solution providers expecting higher sales in the category than in any other product segment. The sentiments were reinforced by a top Intel executive who said notebook sales are on track for triple-digit growth in North America.
In CRN's July 2004 Monthly Solution Provider Survey, VARs questioned about their forecasts for seven different segments of IT spending were 40 percent more optimistic about the notebook segment than they were about desktops, peripherals or PC servers. The confluence of wireless technology and the greater availability of building blocks for system builders have fueled the growth, solution providers said.
Meanwhile, Anand Chandrasekher, vice president of Intel's Mobile Platforms Group, earlier this month said the vendor expects to hit its "goal of 250 percent, year-on-year growth" for 2004.
"This is a bet we made three years ago," Chandrasekher said. "Our assumption at that time [was] that by enabling PCs to get untethered from the wall, we improve the value to end users."
Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel has the largest share of the processor market in the North American notebook space. Even though the next major upgrade to its Centrino platform, code-named Sonoma, has been delayed in its formal launch from late this year to early 2005, solution providers continue to have high expectations. One area that may be fueling the growth is what appears to be new interest in mobile systems in the SMB space.
John Matthews, vice president of sales at BWC Products, a Ladson, S.C.-based system builder, said competition in the notebook space is heating up, especially as small businesses begin adopting mobile solutions in places they may not have before.
"We did a whole customer, a guy with a store," Matt-hews said. "We replaced desktops and we did notebooks for him for his warehouse staff. He went mobile."