August 10, 2020
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For computer hardware majors, the home is the next frontier

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THE next time your children talk computers, be on guard. For, India's largest computer hardware companies, not to mention two international giants, are gunning for your child--and your wallet. This is the new infotech dream: one million home computers to be sold every year by 2000 AD.

It sounds insane. Of the 2.5 lakh branded PCs sold last year, only about 15,000-20,000 were in the household sector. Yet, international giants Compaq and Apple, and India's largest infotech company, HCL Hewlett-Packard (HCL HP), have launched PCs targeted specifically at families. Another Indian player, Wipro-Acer, should be launching its line soon.

The kiddie angle: marketers are depending on children to make their dream sales figures come true. The advertisements, while telling parents what a powerful educational tool a computer at home will be for the children, dangle the fun-and-games appeal for the kids. All three infotech companies are offering built-in CD-ROM drives with audio facilities to make the computer as much fun as possible for the underage user. The target audience: households with monthly disposable incomes above Rs 15,000.

Says V. Anantharaman, CEO of Wipro Acer: "By 1997-98, sales in the home computer segment are expected to rise to 18 per cent of total PC sales." Apple is even more optimistic. The company claims that a study it conducted indicated that within a year, one of every five PCS sold would be to an Indian home.

As of now, HCL Frontline, which markets the BeanStalk range of home computers, claims it sells 12 units a day, a figure expected to grow fourfold within the next two months.

The other two marketers are tightlipped about their sales figures. But not about their chances of success. Abhishek Mukherjee, chief of Compaq India, believes that in a few years India will emerge as the largest home computer market in the Asia-Pacific region. "India's home computer market is expected to grow by 100 per cent every year for the next several years," says Sandeep Bhagi, Apple's country manager (India). If that happens, the one million-mark by 2000 AD may not be just a flight of fancy. In the meantime, try changing the topic whenever your children start talking bits and bytes.

Product Features Prices(Rs)
Apple CD-ROM, External Fax Modem, Printer 55,000-1.2 lakh
Compaq Presario Phone Centre, Fax Modem 80,000-2 lakh
HCL BeanStalk CD-ROM, Fax Modem, Sound Blaster Card and Speakers BBS Service 65,000-85,000
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