Thin-client sales show dramatic rise

19 Sep 2005

Concerns about desktop security and perceived cost benefits are believed to be among the reasons why sales of thin-client computing systems are rising rapidly in a number of regions.

According to new data from market analyst IDC, EMEA thin-client hardware shipments grew 39pc between January and June 2005 when compared with the same period in 2004. This puts the thin-client market on track to ship a record 1,000,000 units in EMEA in a single year.

“Many factors have come together to lead to the strength in this market. Most important are leading large businesses and government institutions that have been looking at all aspects of the security and manageability of their desktop estates,” said Chris Ingle, group consultant for IDC’s EMEA systems group.

“Over the past two years these businesses have carried out evaluations of thin client as an alternative to traditional PCs and have seen total cost of ownership and manageability benefits from thin clients.”

Thin-client or server-based computing is designed as a low-cost computing model where the local PC terminal processes only keyboard, mouse and screen inputs, with all the applications processing done on the server. The main benefits are cost and manageability: local PCs can be very old and inexpensive machines that do not require regular software upgrades.

Some of the strongest growth has come in the Central and Eastern Europe market, which, IDC analyst Darian Bird believed, showed there was “a good fit” between the thin-client model and the requirements of emerging markets.

“Thin client is an ideal solution for many sectors of the rapidly expanding services and manufacturing markets, particularly in Poland, the Czech Republic and South Africa. It also meets the need for a robust and easy to maintain device in areas where communications infrastructure exists but IT support is expensive or hard to obtain. Both indigenous and international vendors have served this market, but we are starting to see increased presence from the major international vendors and we expect this to fuel growth.”

Looking at the thin client more broadly, Bob O’Donnell, vice-president for client computing at IDC, said: “Many organisations have been familiar with thin client software models, particularly for quickly deploying and redeploying applications. This wide use of server-based computing provides a large market into which thin client hardware vendors can sell their product.”

By Brian Skelly