Despite the ubiquity of personal computers, as many as 75% of small businesses in four of the most populous countries in Asia– China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines–do not own any computers at all.

According to the latest study by New York-based Access Markets International, there's reason to hope. The study notes that about 40% of the non-PC SBs in India, over a third in China, and about a quarter each in Indonesia and the Philippines have expressed their intent to buy PCs in the next 12 months.

"SBs in China and Indonesia plan to spend relatively higher amounts–especially on desktop PCs," says Dev Chakravarty, Kolkata-based Analyst at AMI-Partners. "The retail store remains the preferred channel for buying computing hardware. The touch-and-feel concept is still crucial among non-PC SBs–especially those with a low level of computer literacy. This explains the huge preference of the retail store for first-time PC buyers in the four mega economies."

Currently, China has the highest PC penetration among SBs, at 33%. This is followed by the Philippines at 24%, India at 22%, and Indonesia at 18%. Most of the non-PC SBs in these four countries are small, with 1-9 employees each. The bulk of SBs in these countries belongs to the wholesale and retail vertical sector. The exception is China, where more than 50% of non-PC SBs are in the manufacturing vertical.

About 30% of non-PC SBs in India and 14% in China told AMI that they just have not thought about buying PCs. A significant portion of SBs believe that a simple fax and phone is enough for their business. Lack of knowledge about the installation and operation of PCs is also a powerful deterrence.


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