The onset of the IT industry-led home computing initiative (HCI) which aims to boost the penetration of PCs in Irish society has attracted prominent UK intermediary OneCall to establish an operation in the Irish market.
Under the new initiative employers and groups like credit unions will be able to offer computers, laptops and PC peripherals to employees, students, families and the elderly in a cost-effective and convenient way.
The move will cost businesses and employees only a few euros per week and can be deducted from salaries each month.
At present PC penetration stands at only 55pc in Ireland, which is low by OECD standards. This is ironic when you consider that one third of all PCs bought in Europe are manufactured in Ireland.
Companies like OneCall establish a working relationship with employers and other groups with a view to bulk buying PCs and allowing workers and citizens in general to pay for the machines on a monthly basis. The company is already working with AIB and the Garda Credit Union.
OneCall’s managing director Noel Lynch explained that the company will initially employ eight people.
“The value of a scheme like the HCI is that it’s very simple and employers and other organisations can simplify and make it more attractive for workers and citizens in general to buy computers.
“From a worker’s perspective the deductions come out of their salary each month and that makes it more comfortable for them to buy PCs. Plus employees know that their employer is behind them in their purchase, which adds an extra layer of support.”
Lynch said that because people are more comfortable about buying computers through schemes like the HCI it means they tend to go for higher-spec machines.
“Our research shows that 60pc of sales in the last year were notebook computers. Of that 85pc of buyers go right to the top-end specification of computer while only 4pc bought entry-level machines,” said Lynch.
According to AIB, if there was even just a 20pc take-up by Irish employees buying computers through their business employers, this could unlock a market worth €140m to vendors and financiers.
By John Kennedy