South Africa is – often quite correctly – labelled as an "emerging market", but when it comes to some computer users, this country is on a par with western European countries like Spain, Italy and, in some respects, the UK.
On a whirlwind visit to South Africa last week, Intel's channel sales manager for Middle East, Turkey and Africa, Sam Bellamy said the difference he had noticed a profound change in the maturity of the local market.
"There's been a great deal of change since my last visit to South Africa four or five years ago," Bellamy says. "Social aspects … consumer demand … the penetration of phone lines, ISPs, the Internet. Everyone seems to be very technology aware."
Visiting the country's premier gaming expo, rAge, Bellamy emphasised his point.
"The number of guys bringing in machines at rAge really surprised me – and I didn't see one that was branded," he says. "They were all custom-built machines they've built themselves and which they take great pride in.
"The market here , all round, has matured significantly and I would certainly argue that it is on a par compared to Italy and Spain, even the UK, in certain sectors. There's not much difference."
Bellamy paid tribute to the local channel in bringing about the level of maturity the industry has reached.
"Generally, in emerging markets, consumers do their homework when it comes to buying technology and it takes a certain level of expertise to sell them a product," he says. "Whether its for SoHo or recreation, people rely on their channel guys to have this expertise. Obviously, the healthy balance of specialists in the South African channel has had its impact."
And local users are also keenly aware of the latest technology available.
"We've had people here at rAge asking us when they can get Penryn, for example," he says of Intel's latest platform which was announced 10 days ago at Intel's Developer Forum. "Again, that shows the education level of the consumer in this country.
"And that's good for the channel, great for Intel and great for South Africa."