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Notebook damage mounting

Downtime rates for portables reach as high as 18 percent at an average cost of $1,200 per unit.

As the use of portable PCs continues to grow, notebook damage and unreliability is skyrocketing, according to a study released by International Data Corporation (IDC) today.

For every 1,500 notebook PCs in use

Notebook damage: Key points
Damage rates as high as 18%
Average repair cost is $1,200
75% of companies suffer damage
85% of companies don't track downtime
Source: IDC
at large organizations, 120 or more units--at least 8 percent--are damaged over a 12-month period. Couple that statistic with the average damage cost of $1,200 per unit for the hardware, IS (information systems) support time, and lost user productivity, and there is genuine cause for concern, the report concludes.

Portable PCs are replacing desktop computers at an increasing rate, and IDC forecasts that notebooks will exceed 30 million units by 2002. "With current overall damage rates of 11 to 18 percent by department, the simple message is that IS managers can expect growing numbers of downed notebooks to deal with both in terms of money and repair logistics," researchers wrote.

"Product reliability continues to be a major concern, and the loss due to downtime can be steep as the research showed a surprisingly high rate of damage," IDC researcher Randy Giusto said in a statement. "This remains a serious issue that needs to be addressed by vendors if they want to hold on to their corporate business."

The study is based on a survey of 350 medium and large corporations that deploy large numbers of notebook PCs used as primary business tools. It also takes into account 250 large IS notebook PC buyers that support corporate users and 100 department managers with staffs utilizing 10 or more notebooks.

As many as 85 percent of the survey respondents do not track notebook downtime, despite the increasing awareness of so-called "total cost of ownership" theories, the report found.

Researchers pointed to one interesting anomaly that came out of the study. While 20 percent of respondents feel they are using a "rugged notebook PC," in fact many are simply using mainstream products they perceive as rugged. The irony is that these users may be underestimating the damages and costs they could avoid by applying a more critical eye toward durability, construction, and quality.

The study was commissioned by Panasonic, which makes so-called ruggedized notebooks. Ruggedized products typically feature studier joints, casings, and parts.