IBM's Sanjeev Menon says that first time buyers of notebooks will graduate to mid-range and power users every one year.
IBM won the Techtree.com User's Choice and Editor's Choice for Value in notebooks. Sanjeev Menon, Country Manager, Mobile Computing, IBM India, says that it's notebooks are probably preferred due to the company's long heritage and technology features.
Techtree: What do you think makes IBM seemingly the best notebook around?
Menon: From a product perspective - it's our heritage, a very long period of time related to quality service and technology features, and our performance in India evident through our sales and service infrastructure. The IBM brand notebooks are known for intrinsic qualities like their ease of use and ruggedness.
Techtree: You have had a reputation of being a brand preferred only by corporates.
Menon: If you look at our market, a large part is still the large enterprise and small and medium businesses. And at this point of time, we are increasing our presence in the Small Office-Home Office setups by letting consumers get a touch-and-feel experience at our ThinkWorlds. We are also increasing our shipments to this segment.
We have a clear roadmap in this segment - the ThinkWorlds are IBM exclusive and ThinkZones are multi-branded retail outlets.
Techtree: Why do you think technologies like Biometrics will pickup in notebooks?
Menon: We launched the T42 equipped with Biometrics a month back and we are giving out this message. We have seen good pickup, and found this was wanted in conjunction with other security features especially among users who fear losing their password or move from one organization to other. Initially, there was a certain amount of technology selling needed but consumers seem to have crossed the barrier. This is a utility now.
Techtree: Does that mean the good old Kensington locks will be phased out?
Menon: They address two different layers of protection Biometrics is for authentication and data access while Kensington locks are for hardware and physical security. They address two different security needs.
Techtree: Has the lack of real wireless mobility hampered notebook purchases?
Menon: Wireless mobility is a very important feature, especially for those on the move and it has not really got down to true mobility in public places. Currently, the government has cleared only the indoor range. So it will pick up only as a replacement to wired computing in the internal environment.
And when compared to PDAs or smartphones, users at work will require full size screens and keyboard and only notebooks can provide such ease of working.
Techtree: Do individuals still get their notebooks purchased abroad and brought in as part of luggage?
Menon: We have not seen a big trend there. Our sales have been robust and we haven't seen an impact of this. Buying here should be preferred because we offer a local touch-point for consumers. Also, our product launches here happen pretty much real-time compared to the U.S. and we price our ThinkPads to the local market.
Techtree: Ever since you first brought out the Rs 55,000-Celeron-based R40e model in late 2003, you have been silent on such entry-level notebooks. Is this being phased out?
Menon: The entry-level models still continue primarily because a lot of first-time buyers prefer them to get their first taste of mobility. We won't be phasing them out. And I don't think the perceived lack of performance of Celeron notebooks have a negative impact on future purchases because they buy the notebooks after testing the performance.
Techtree: You don't advertise financing schemes or such programs for the consumers for your notebooks?
Menon: The ThinkWorld and ThinkZone partners have individually tied up with financing companies for such schemes. We don't have a master program. We also announce schemes often.
Techtree: Can we see an AMD-based notebook from you anytime soon?
Menon: Our roadmap is Intel-based.
Techtree: Do you see any more price drops on branded notebooks?
Menon: What we see as a trend is that various segments and price points will exist. A lot of entry-level first-time users will graduate to mid-range and to power users. I see them graduate up within one year though the aspiration is to continue using the notebook for years. It's difficult to give a price trend.