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.