PC Buyers Mostly Happy, Despite Battery Recalls

An IDC survey shows that consumer habits have been largely unaffected by battery recalls, although 15 percent of those surveyed said they may change their buying patterns.

A survey by market research firm IDC has found the battery recalls the occurred earlier this year will have no dramatic effect on the market for notebook PCs.

Thats the good news. The bad news is 15 percent of the corporate and consumer buyers surveyed said they will change their buying patterns this holiday season because of the recalls, a change that could sway market share.

"The silver lining is that most of the customers we surveyed arent foregoing notebook purchases," said Richard Shim, senior research analyst with IDCs Personal Computing program, in a prepared statement.

"Instead, a small percentage indicate that they will alter their brand preference, meaning that vendors have an opportunity to win over new customers, forming new market dynamics."

Dell, Lenovo and other companies recalled several million batteries manufactured by Sony for notebook PCs this past summer and early fall.

The recalls began in June after a Dell notebook caught fire at a business conference in Osaka, Japan. It was eventually discovered that due to a defect, some batteries would short circuit and produce large amounts of heat.

Dell went on to recall some 4.1 million notebook computer batteries in what the Consumer Product Safety Commission called at the time the largest safety recall in the history of the consumer electronics industry.

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IDC, based in Framingham, Mass., surveyed about 500 corporate IT decision-makers and directors from small, medium, and large businesses as well as more than 200 consumer PC buyers in late October 2006.

The study found that 85 percent of respondents said the battery recalls will not impact future notebook PC purchasing decisions. However, 15 percent of both corporate and consumer buyers said they change their buying habits because of the recalls.

"Fifteen percent is not insignificant," Shim said Nov. 29.

IDC believes that 15 percent could sway market share among corporations who buy in bulk, but would not have any dramatic effects.

The consumer market, Shim noted, is traditionally fickle, and the safety issues posed by the batteries have shown themselves to not be enough of a priority to substantially hurt the notebook market —a plus for an industry where notebook shipments are outpacing desktops.

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