PC design counts more than ever

Desktop PC design appears to be on its way toward some major changes, with size and color being critical in determining the success of the design, a study released by International Data Corp. concludes.

The IDC report, entitled “The Evolution of Desktop PC Form Factors,” analyzes how desktop design will change over the next five years, how preferences in the consumer and commercial markets differ, the role of a PC’s color, texture, and shape in a user’s buying decision, and things that can speed up or inhibit the penetration of various form factors in to the commercial and consumer segments.

The success of Apple Computer Inc.’s iMac shows that users seem receptive to new desktop PC designs, Roger Kay, IDC manager of desktop PC research, said. Apple sold four million iMacs, the curvy desktop computer introduced in 1998, with translucent casing in several colors.

Kay said Apple, along with other PC makers, face the challenge of doing something different again, but not so different that it stretches into elaborate rococo designs and bright colors.

“All our testing shows people are more conservative than that, and both the consumer and commercial markets, but particularly the commercial, want something that is staid. What tests well is metals and black and whites; a color that does well is blue.”

However, there are questions about how users will accept all the new shapes, sizes, and colors, according to IDC, whose study provides consumer and business user reaction to a range of new desktop designs. Researchers used focus groups and primary research to compile the data, and forecasts for evaluating which designs will be market winners, the release said.

IDC believes small PCs that can be moved out of the way will have broad appeal, as will flat-panel displays. The IDC study also finds that designs that appeal to consumers may not appeal to business buyers. Desktop PCs designed for the consumer market will need to pack a punch, while those for the corporate world will need to be understated and elegant, Kay said.

IDC is owned by International Data Group Inc. is the parent company of IDG News Service.

Based in Boston, IDC can be reached at http://www.idc.com.

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