Perhaps one of the more obvious PC trends appearing these days is the new look many now sport. No longer limited to big, clunky models in boring beige tones, computers this year will increasingly become available in new designs, shapes and sizes.
One emerging characteristic: the shrinking size of business PCs. "Computers are going to get smaller in 1999," Enderle says. "People want to free up space on their desks, and extra size means extra weight, which also adds to shipping costs. So manufacturers are making smaller size boxes."
And nothing epitomizes the move toward the PC's new look and feel more than Apple Computer's daring iMac, released last year. With its translucent plastic and retro look, the iMac is the coolest-looking computer we've ever seen. Its sleek design, ergonomic mouse and aqua color has caught the attention of PC manufacturers and consumers alike--and many like what they see.
Whether more PC vendors will jump on the new design bandwagon depends on how well the iMac is received (although initial reactions have been positive). PC manufacturers will likely take a cautious wait-and-see approach early this year. But Enderle believes we'll see more creative designs from PC vendors in the coming months, particularly by the holiday shopping season.
Also adding to the PC's updated image is a move toward more ergonomic products. Consumers' continued concern over carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries is spurring PC vendors to come out with ergonomic mice designed with comfortable curves, as well as keyboards created with natural typing positions in mind.
Liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors, also known as flat-panel displays, are also a major part of this growing trend. LCD monitors don't emit radiation like CRT monitors do, and their reduced power requirements are friendlier to the environment. "Look for LCD monitors to become more of a mainstream product," Enderle says. If low power consumption, high resolution rates for crisp images, and slender size are advantages in your business, consider an LCD monitor.
Their only drawback: cost. Many range from around $1,500 to $4,000, although prices are expected to decline considerably. Similarly, you'll pay extra for any added functionality, from space-saving designs to ergonomic extras, so make sure you only buy the components and goodies you really need.