Affinity Index: Desktop Systems

Dell may be the new kid on the block in terms of channel presence, but its name is well established in the SMB desktop customer base. The vendor accounted for the largest percentage of the dollar value of customer proposals written by VARs in the first half of the year. But that doesn't translate into Dell having the largest share of deals closed, according to new research by the Institute for Partner Education & Development (IPED), the research arm of Everything Channel, which also owns ChannelWeb.

Dell also finished fourth in the final version of IPED's new Channel Affinity Index, which measures vendors based on weighted ratings in 15 categories by solution providers. Meanwhile, Apple solution providers continue to show the love for that company's desktop systems, leading Apple to the top Index score.

Hewlett-Packard closed more revenue in deals in the first half of the year than any other vendor, even though its average transaction size was smaller than those of its four closest competitors, according to IPED's research.

Overall, VARs expect desktop sales to sink in the second half, likely due to laptops making more inroads into the PC space and the economy.

The following slides illustrate some of the complete results in the SMB desktop systems category. ChannelWeb is providing further findings in other product categories throughout December.

VARs were asked to score vendors on 15 different factors, weighing those factors in terms of importance. In the desktop category, solution providers chose vendor-provider sales training as the most important factor (awarding it 12 percent of the total score). Second to that was the cost/time it takes to change/add vendors, with 11 percent of the total score, meaning VARs take seriously the money and time it takes to switch vendor partners.

Solution providers said end customer's brand preference was the third most important factor when selecting products, giving it 10 percent of the total score. Conversely, solution providers said technical training associated with a desktop vendor was the least important of the 15 factors, giving it just 2 percent of the total score.

Adding up the scores for all 15 factors, Apple earned the highest Affinity Index score with a 649, 23 percent higher than the average of 527. Overall, solution providers seem satisfied with Apple's desktop products and channel support. HP came in second (618), followed by Acer/Gateway (495). The other competitors fell below average by a significant margin.

In the Channel Affinity Index study, research shows that 34.7 percent of the dollar value of desktop proposals that solution providers wrote for end users in the first half of the year featured Dell as the primary vendor. Dell nearly had a higher value share than the next two competitors HP (19.9 percent) and Lenovo (16.2 percent) combined.

Dell had the second-highest average transaction size for proposals in the first half, at $22,100; Lenovo came in first at $29,800.

In closing deals, HP stood head and shoulders above its competitors for the first half of 2008. HP's partners reported an impressive 36.1 percent of the dollar share value derived from deals closed in the first half, beating second-place Dell by more than 15 percentage points. HP's average transaction size was $10,400 for closed deals, lagging behind Lenovo's average transaction of $18,600.

What accounts for HP's success?

"We lead with HP products, specifically desktops and workstations, as HP offers the best combination of standards for business needs today," said Brad Ormsby, owner and manager of Ormsby's Computer Systems. "HP makes it easy for us to get products out the door quickly and efficiently. Especially in today's market, time is money."

HP also accounted for the largest value share of deals that solution providers expect to close in the second half of the year, but overall, it isn't a pretty picture for desktops.

VARs expect HP to have 33.2 percent of the value of all desktop deals in the second half, topping Dell, which has 25.1 percent.

Overall, VARs also expect the total value of desktop sales to fall 6.1 percent in the second half, compared to the actual value of closed deals in the first half of the year.