Category Archives: IT Pricing

Q2 Round-up: New iPad Launch Softens Consumer Slate Sales Slump

With unrivalled insight into the Western Europe ICT supply chain, CONTEXT has been following with interest the evolution of the PC and mobile computing market. In many ways, Q2 saw a continuation of trends, with PC volume sales continuing to fall and consumer tablet demand remaining weak as buyers divert their spending to smartphones.

However, as always, there were some interesting caveats behind the headline statistics, not least the impressive performance of the new iPad launched in March.

Tablets and detachables
It’s true that overall consumer tablet demand remained weak during the second quarter. Shoppers continued to shift their budgets to other technologies that have come to represent the content consumption devices of choice in this market segment. Larger screened smartphones in particular have become popular for activities like writing emails and using apps as they’re always on and close-at-hand for consumers.

However, year-on-year volume decline was softened somewhat thanks to the launch in March of Apple’s seventh generation iPad. The 9.7in tablet is more powerful than the iPad Air 2 but also heavier and lacking several of the latter’s features such as a Smart Connector, and fully laminated, anti-reflective screen. However, its relatively low-price tag seems to have attracted consumers in large numbers and it sold well in Q2.

This is not unusual for Apple products, which often see strong initial sales. But if consumers continue to flock to the model, it would seem to suggest there’s a need for a high-quality iPad option with a price point more in line with current market trends.

Elsewhere, business detachables continued to grow year-on-year in Q2, dominated by Apple and Microsoft products but with Lenovo making impressive inroads. New products such as Apple’s iPad Pro with a 10.5in screen and Microsoft’s fifth generation Surface Pro helped drive this growth. Business detachables still aren’t selling in huge volumes, but it was one of the few segments to post growth in the quarter.

PC Average Selling Prices continue to rise
On the face of it, the PC market overall saw a bigger than expected drop of -15% year-on-year in terms of volume sales. However, there’s more to this trend than meets the eye. For one, Q2 2017 had fewer trading days than the same period last year and some April sales had been brought forward to March in anticipation of rising prices.

Despite weak demand in some segments, the quarter fared better from a revenue perspective, down just -2% year-on-year as average selling prices (ASPs) continued to rise. The growth in ASPs year-on-year continues to be driven by a blend of currency, component costs and a richer product mix; with the shift to high-end models a welcome continued trend.

Weaker-than-expected sell-through meant that inventory levels are a bit higher than desired, but not worryingly so. It’s likely that the “back-to-school” period will be used to get rid of extra stock, driving a reduction in pricing quarter-on-quarter.

by MCP

 

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GTDC EMEA Summit – Positive at the midpoint of the year

At the recent GTDC EMEA Summit, the CONTEXT data and team were in evidence as the preliminary results of its annual 2017 ChannelWatch survey were unveiled in a dedicated workshop, and the GTDC Rising Star awards were selected using the CONTEXT data.

There was a real buzz this year with over 175 attendees, a record number of vendors, and senior executives from across the industry. The location was excellent with top class hospitality in the Kempinski Hotel in Vienna.

The conference opened with an upbeat introductory speech from Tim Curran, the CEO of the GTDC. Europe is on the move, growing faster than the US, and with excellent results in Q1 2017. Curran also took the occasion to remind members of the services provided by the GTDC.

We were then treated to a fascinating glimpse into the future by “futurist and humanist” Gerd Leonhard. Bringing together a myriad of ideas about the current technology explosion, he closed off his speech with a slide which really sums up the challenge ahead. Humans can only advance at a linear pace, whereas technology capabilities are advancing exponentially. We need to deal with this so that we don’t become “useless humans” and we must channel the new technology to the benefit of all mankind.

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From GTDC Keynote Presentation by Gerd Leonhard, 13/6/2017 ©

The final session of the morning, before breaking off into workshops and 1-to-1 meetings, was a Distribution panel, hosted by Peter Ward. On the panel were Graeme Watt, formerly CEO of Avnet Europe, now SVP Value at Tech Data; Jeremy Butt, Executive VP of Westcon EMEA; Ilona Weiss, CEO of ABC Data; Eric Nowak, President of Arrow ECS EMEA; Svens Dinsdorfs, CEO of Elko; and Anton Herbst, Head of Strategy at Tarsus.

The discussions were broad-ranging around the future of Distribution, the impact of recent consolidations, and there was a plea from Graeme Watt for vendors to think solutions not products, in order to get the right results for customers. An interesting debate took place about the importance of recruiting and retaining the best talent in the tech industry, a challenging area. One of the panellists said that often when people have been trained up in a specialist area, they are subsequently targeted for recruitment by resellers or vendors. This is definitely the stuff of future discussions for this audience to grapple with and find solutions.

In the CONTEXT workshop the preliminary results of the ChannelWatch survey for 6 out of 17 countries – UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Poland – were presented. A number of questions were asked by attendees at the GTDC conference who were curious to know more. As Andy Dow, Group Marketing Director of Tech Data UK said, “The more deeply you dive, the more you understand that you need to dive even deeper.”

In this year’s ChannelWatch survey we had an overwhelming response of nearly 7,000 resellers, supported by our distributor partners who shared the survey with their reseller clients. The respondents were mainly owners, CEO’s and senior management, covered a broad spectrum of resellers, VAR’s, etailers and retailers, as well as small, medium and large sized companies.

Overall resellers in these countries are confident about 2016 and optimistic about 2017. This has been confirmed by a stellar opening to 2017 with 5% growth in Q1 panel revenues in these countries compared to last year, ranging from 13% growth in Spain to 1% in the UK. The outlying country for optimism is Spain (71% think that 2017 will be better than 2016) and the country with the highest number of doubters is the UK where 20% see 2017 as being worse than 2016.

The preliminary ChannelWatch data supports the encouraging opening talk by Tim Curran, and we look forward to a positive second half of the year.

The full results of the ChannelWatch survey will be made available in the coming weeks.

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by AS

 

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Q&A with Keith Henry, SVP Sales and Marketing at CONTEXT

What is your role at CONTEXT?
Head of Sales & Marketing – to support structure and process development for CONTEXT sales and marketing to drive top-line growth and scale. After all, sales represent the engine of growth!

What attracted you to CONTEXT?
I  re-connected with Jeremy Davies, CEO, after 30 years which is exciting. The opportunity to join a rich data-asset driven firm that is on a growth path and developing added-value solutions represents a very attractive proposition. The selling environment has radically changed since 2009, so this is a wonderful challenge. In addition to that I had heard that Context has a special, warm, ethical, culture which has great appeal.

Where were you working before?
I have spent over 30 years with a number of great firms in the ICT space – Xerox, DataQuest/Gartner, IDC – and most recently Outsell. Outsell is a specialised agency that serves the intersection of Information and Technology domains. I was head of Global Sales and supported their CEO Leadership program: a problem-solving forum for leaders across the Information industry. Significantly – single biggest CEO headache? Sales optimisation and sustainability!

What do you think the main challenges are in the technology industry today? 
Well, to be certain, digital transformation will continue to re-shape the tech landscape creating opportunities for innovators and disrupters alike. That said, I strongly believe “millennials” are set to change many things about our industry, although old-fashioned values such as brand power, sensible profitable growth and customer-centric strategies will continue to be the foundation drivers of the industry.

What is the best business advice you have ever received?
Be hard on issues but soft on people!

What never fails to make you laugh?
Playing tennis in the rain in England– no one seems to notice!

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I’m a fan of horse-racing. There are 59 tracks in the UK and I have only been to 27, so the journey continues.

What are you reading at the moment?
“The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer. It provides insight into better understanding of protocols and behaviours of different cultures,- a never ending educational journey in my view.

If you had your time again, what would be your next choice of career?
I have always been intrigued by diplomatic services. I doubt I have the right attributes, probably the illusionary way it is portrayed in films is the appeal!

What do you think are the key ingredients to success in Business Development?
Three crucial ingredients:
Firstly, planning and organising a call
Then, managing an outcome, next steps
Finally, learning to talk the buyer’s language – after all, its all about them!

 

 

 

 

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Weak euro puts pressure on hardware pricing

by Marie-Christine Pygott, Senior Analyst

Towards the end of January, the euro hit a new low against the US dollar. Having lost 11% of its value between July and the end of December last year, the Eurozone currency was down by another 6.8% against the US dollar in January after the new year opened with a series of events that led to increased pressure on the currency.

For the large, non-European IT manufacturers, this has been bad news; where components are sourced in US dollars and revenues generated in euros, the devaluation has meant a significant increase in production costs and a strain on margins. Our distributor pricing data shows a 7% rise in the euro cost of components in the few months between July and December last year, despite a small decline in dollar terms. While prices did not go up to the same extent in real life, it is only a question of time before pricing shifts will show in our Channel data.

And show, it will. It is clear that IT Vendors cannot just simply absorb the recent rise in costs. In fact, we are beginning to see list prices in our February data go up vs. January for a number of Desktop, Notebook and Server SKUs. What we will also see, and to an even larger extent, are “hidden” price increases through the introduction of new systems at higher price levels, or through a reduction in the performance of existing SKUs that need to be kept at a specific, stable price point.

Consumers and new business customers will be the first to feel the change; unlike customers of business deals, which are already in place, they will not benefit from contractual obligations that keep prices stable for longer. And chances are that price increases in the consumer segment will have an impact on volume growth. Whether that’s ultimately a bad thing remains to be seen. If new technologies and form factors keep consumer demand at a high enough level to further spur refreshment cycles, the effect of lower volume sales on margins could be more than offset by a shift to the higher end of the pricing scale.

 

 

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