What PC Buyers Want

While features alone won't build a market, having the right features can provide a reason to champion an upgrade.

Quick, name the top PC vendors. Wrong. Try Formoza, Kraftway, Aquarius, R-Syle Computers and K Systems. They dont sound familiar? They would if you were shopping in Moscow. And the biggest vendor of all in Russia, according to IDC researcher Robert Farish, is the neighborhood white-box assembler, which accounts for 85 percent of the market. The PC market, by the way, is doing quite well in Russia: It grew 17 percent last year and will grow 15 percent this year, to 2.5 million units annually, according to IDC.

The purpose of the quiz wasnt to test your knowledge of worldwide PC markets but to take a step back from scrutiny of the jockeying of Hewlett-Packard and Dell Computer in their seesaw battle for No. 1. Dell, according to IDC, trumped HP worldwide in the first quarter, which saw total worldwide shipments reach 34.6 million, up 2.1 percent year to year.

Selling nearly 35 million of anything in the current economy seems like a decent business to me, yet the meager growth rate always spurs much hand wringing from analysts and computer vendors wondering when the next great wave of tech spending will be unleashed. But not one to trust my own opinion, I went to our advisory board—the eWEEK Corporate Partners—to ask them what the attributes are that would give a desktop or laptop the wow factor.

"Reliability, reliability, reliability. Most of my laptop users are executives who go on the road only when necessary. When they get there and cant work, I have a problem, not them," said Sam Inks, director of IS at Atlantic Research, in Gainesville, Va.

"Were giving server blades serious consideration for our NOC," said one Corporate Partner, asking for anonymity from fear of being barraged by vendor salespeople. But blades are cutting quite a figure on the client side as well. See Francis Chus review of ClearCube Technologys latest for more information.