A war of words is brewing between two of South Africa's top distributors – Tarsus and Mustek – on the topic of international branded PCs such as HP and Dell versus local brands like Mustek's flagship product, Mecer.
In an article carried in the media last week around a reported 19% drop in second quarter sales of the top three local brands, Tarsus CEO Pierre Spies is quoted as saying that international brands such as Dell and HP have benefitted from this decline in sales with their PCs now retailing at the same price as local brands.
“Local players cannot reduce prices further and have witnessed customers migrating to international brands available at a similar price,” Spies is reported as saying. He added that a drop-off in traditional retail channels had further compounded the problems faced by local brands.
Spies' comments have prompted Mustek CEO, David Kan, to get involved in the debate.
“It is true that international brands such as Acer, HP and Lenovo are selling at prices similar to locally branded desktop PCs,” Kan says. "However, these brands are offering very outdated CPU configurations. The CPU configurations are at least 6 months old in comparison with product offerings by Mecer, Mustek’s flagship PC brand. Mecer has always been at the forefront of PC technology, and in the rapidly-developing PC industry, anything older than 6 months can be considered as archaic.
“It is evident that the South African PC market is repeatedly being used by the international brands as a dumping ground for outdated PCs,” Kan says. “The South African end user is being duped by not realising that he/she is actually forfeiting technology in favour of price when it comes to international brand PCs.”
At the time of going to press, Spies was in transit returning from an overseas business trip and therefore unavailable for comment.