According to a study by a leading research firm, Indian computer hardware industry is expected to grow to revenues of $62 bn by the year 2013. Earlier, Indian computer hardware importers used to buy the products from overseas computer hardware wholesale distributors, but now the scenario has changed. These days, computer hardware manufacturers in India are manufacturing computers, peripherals and accessories within the country itself. Only highly advanced parts are purchased from overseas computer hardware exporters. The free laptop schemes as announced by various state governments recently have brought tears into the eyes of those who depend only on the sale of laptops. On the other side, those who sell accessories comprise the happier lot.
Laptop has been the latest buzzword which attracts both votes and business. Years before someone carrying a rectangle-shaped black bag across the chest used to be an odd-man-out in the crowd. It was the time when the so called ‘mobile computer' or ‘mini computer' was new to the society. Few years down, it has become almost everyone's favorite possession. This trend apart, lately, even governments and private bodies have started issuing free laptops for employees and students. This has prompted the channel community across the country to voice their opinion on the same.
The Era of Laptops
Various governments in the country are providing laptops either price-free or interest-free for students and teachers. With e-governance being one of the key strength areas of all the state governments, one of the prime steps taken by the governments were issuing laptops to employees as well as students in schools and colleges. On the other hand, private colleges, especially the B-schools in the country, started the trend of providing free laptops to all students enrolling in a given academic year. In today's scenario, almost all the private B-schools and T-Schools give free laptops to their students. Corporate multinational companies (MNCs), needless to say, ‘adorn' their employees with a laptop.
Free laptop scheme by various state governments
It has been more than a year since the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) assumed office in Tamil Nadu. And keeping in tune with one of its election promises, the Jayalalitha government, through Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT), has been floating tenders and distributing free laptops for students in schools and colleges across the state. The Tamil Nadu government has also distributed a laptop, printer and a computer-training guide for all the Village Administrative Officers (VAOs). This means, with a total cost of around `22 crore and `49 lakh, the 7,787 VAOs in the state will have a laptop, a printer and a user guide. No wonder, the initiative has been welcomed by the locals, especially the young generation, in addition to a mixed response from the channel community. While few say that the move has proved to be a threat for them, some channel partners feel that the business has not been impacted since the laptops do not come with high-end configurations and have been distributed only to the education sector. The ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh had promised to give tablets or laptops to students clearing standard 10th/12th from the academic session 2011-12 onwards. For this, `2,800 crore had been provisioned to the UP budget. However, this scheme could well cost the exchequer almost `4,500 crore, if all of those passing classes 10th and 12th this year, approximately numbering over 2.8 mn and 1.9 mn respectively, avail of the benefit. This number will definitely rise next year, keeping in mind the increase in the number of students annually. Besides, this scheme would also act as an incentive for weaker students to score passing grades, thus pushing the number of successful students further. Although the government had announced that the eligible students would get the gadgets by the end of this calendar year, it is likely to get stretched to 2013 March. Unlike Tamil Nadu, in Goa, the laptop comes with high-configurations and according to the partners, it does not boost the sale of the accessories.