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The PC-TV Combo

Biswajit.HD

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In today’s fast-paced environment, consumers are looking for multipurpose devices that can fulfill all their infotainment and computing needs. This, combined with the higher disposable incomes of Indian families—which can increasingly afford a second TV—is making PC vendors as well as consumer electronics (CE) manufacturers come up with a variety of smart TV and PC-TV devices.

“School kids aged 9-17 years, who are also the prime users of desktop PCs, are an important target segment for these products. At times kids demand a separate TV; at other times they also want a PC. The PC-TV is the best option in such cases. We are also targeting youth who already have notebooks,” says Rajesh Thadani, Director, Consumer Segment, Lenovo India. Agrees Pramod Dere, MD, Cyber Peripherals, an Aurangabad-based partner of Lenovo, “Major buyers are expected from the school-going group as well as the tech-savvy youth. Customers planning to buy mobile PCs for home use are also expected to switch to these products.”

Apart from children and youth, professionals such as stock brokers may also adopt the converged devices in significant numbers. Says Jasmin Kamdar, MD, Binary Systems, another Lenovo partner, “Besides home buyers, we are seeing a big demand from stock brokers who need to do transactions on the PC as well as update themselves about the news on TV.”

“Executives who need to update themselves on the latest news and who also want to work on the PC are expected to opt for these products,” adds Ajaya Kumar, MD, Park Network, a channel partner in New Delhi.

TV getting smarter
Although the Indian market is in a nascent stage for such products, CE companies have started launching smart or Internet TVs.

Samsung and LG have introduced Smart TV, Sony has its Internet TV, and Panasonic is aggressively marketing its converged Viera Connect platform.

Sony has come out with 16 new Internet models that can stream a variety of Internet content, including YouTube video clips and content from sites such as DailyMotion, Blip.TV, MenStyle, Wired, GolfLink, eHow, and Livestrong. Internet widgets on the Sony Bravia range allow users to access Skype, Twitter and Facebook. And the starting price for the Sony Internet TV is only Rs20,900.

The Samsung Smart TV allows users to search TV shows and movies, chat with friends, get updates from Twitter or Facebook, and browse the Internet. Samsung also offers various apps including Netflix, Blockbusters, YouTube and Hulu Plus that can be downloaded on the Smart TV. Samsung’s Smart TV range is available at a starting price of Rs58,000 which goes up to Rs250,000.

The LG Smart TV allows you to access online content, movies and various applications through the convenience of a remote control that operates like a mouse. It also allows wireless access to content stored on digital devices including digital cameras, mobile phones, tablets and PCs. The LG Smart TV is available in 14 SKUs from 32-inch to 55-inch with a price range of Rs43,000-Rs1.7 lakh.

The Panasonic Viera Connect is an open IPTV platform that has a collection of applications including expanded video streaming, two-way interactive features from gaming to social networking, and fitness programs. Panasonic has also launched 23 new flat-panel Viera TV models (19 to 65 inches) compatible with the Viera Connect platform.

“We are looking at a huge segment of young professionals who are not only tech-inclined and style-conscious but also have the required purchasing power,” says Tadato Kimura, GM, Marketing, Sony India.

PC getting versatile
While TV makers move to smarter tubes, PC vendors are moving to integrate more TV features into their products.

HP recently launched the AIO desktop series Omni 200-5310I that comes with an inbuilt TV tuner card and offers features like media center for TV viewing, show scheduling and live TV recording. The HP range is available from Rs27,030 to Rs36,570. “We introduced a desktop that is appropriate for comfortable TV viewing as well as high performance computing. HP believes that the patterns of home use of digital devices and consumption of content is getting more integrated. Customers want one central device where they can link up all their digital devices and content,” says Vinay Awasthi, Senior Director, Product & Marketing, PSG, HP India.

Lenovo too has launched an AIO range that has one-key TV viewing. The AIO comes with an integrated TV chip which reduces the switch time from PC to TV compared to a TV tuner card. It also offers the picture-in-picture feature through which one can work on the PC and view TV simultaneously. The product is available at a price of Rs39,990. The company also has plans to introduce a more affordable version of the product at Rs29,990.

Need for combo devices
With a sizable number of Indians watching TV for an average of two hours a day and using the PC for about six hours a day, the potential for combo devices is growing. “AIO TVs are an emerging market and with this convergence happening we expect to sell 25,000 units in this financial year. Once this category picks up, it will grow 100 percent quarter-on-quarter,” forecasts Thadani.

According to Dere of Cyber Peripherals, which is expecting a 10-15 percent growth in revenue attributed to PC-TV devices, sales will increase along with awareness among consumers as the converged devices have been launched very recently. “The coming festival season is going to boost the sales of these products,” he predicts.

Consumers have just started to hear about the products in various media and will take some time to understand their value addition. “In north India, there are abundant rich buyers who are ready to try new gadgets. They are expected to be the first buyers of these products. Also, as numbers increase prices will decrease, leading to wider adoption,” says Kumar.

Channel play
With the growing acceptance of converged devices, convergence among partners has also begun. For example, Toshiba is merging its PC and TV partners. In July this year the company unified its TV and PC business operations into a single organization, combining resources and creating a wider network of customer touch-points and service centers.

“With the integration of our TV and PC business, we are able to offer IT products through our home appliance partners and vice versa. Besides increasing our strength to 6,000 stores in 2012, we are also increasing the number of service centers from the current 140 to 200,” says Wu Tengguo, Director, Digital Products, Home Appliances & Services Division, Toshiba India.

Even companies such as Lenovo that currently distribute their products through traditional channel partners do not deny that soon there would be a convergence in the channel as well. “Currently, retailers/resellers offering consumer electronics apprehend that these products will hamper sales of LCD/LED TVs. The future is, of course, bright for these products, and both the IT and consumer appliance resellers/retailers will start offering these,” says Thadani.

Channel partners too do not feel that the converged devices will be any threat to the growth of standalone TVs and PCs. Says Kumar of Park Network, “We believe that the market for standalone PCs as well as TVs will not be affected much, and that the converged products will attract new buyers.”

“We expect that these PC-TV combination products will also be offered by consumer durables partners leading to a revolutionary penetration,” adds Dere.

Too early to call
Given the nascent nature of the market for PC-TV devices, low awareness among consumers, and challenges such as lack of reliable and abundant Internet bandwidth, the jury on how converged devices will eventually shape the overall market is still a long way out.

source : crn
 
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