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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Increasingly, it's all about the laptop

Increasingly, it's all about the laptop

With the price of laptops falling in the past two years, many consumers are ditching their desktops

The latest deals on laptops in Phnom Penh

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- Intel Pentium Dual Core 2.16Ghz
- 15.4” screen
- 120GB HDD

$899 HP Pavilion dm3
- Intel Duo Core 1.3Ghz
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$1,639 Macbook Pro
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$2,180 Sony VGN series
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Prices have come down a lot – this is due to ... the IT revolution."

COMPUTER wholesalers in the Kingdom say prices for new laptops have plummeted since 2008 leading to a rise in sales of about 40 percent over the same period.

But during the same period desktop sales have fallen dramatically to the extent that there is now almost “no market”.

“Now, if you have around US$300, you can buy a brand new laptop,” said Ley Sopheap, president and CEO of Smart Business Group, which imports for wholesale about 800 to 1,000 units per month on brands including Hewlett and Packard, Acer, Sony and Toshiba from China.

Smart Business Group distributes through about 200 domestic dealers.

“2008 was the turning point in regards to high demand for brand-new laptops,” he said.

Total demand for new laptops is estimated at about 70,000 to 80,000 units per year, estimated Ley Sopheap.

And that is expected to keep on rising, he added, as desktops lose popularity and more Cambodians buy their own computers.

“I think that about five years later we all won’t use desktops,” he predicted.

The significant drop in price was a major factor in recent rising demand for laptops, said Sok Channda, president and CEO of (Cambodia) Data Communication Co Ltd, which runs Anana computer store, and ISP, which imports Sony and exclusively ships DELL computers. But a change in lifestyle had also contributed, she added, with the rise in modern coffee shops, restaurants and hotels in Phnom Penh, many of which offer
Wi-Fi Internet for free.

“That is also a factor of growth in laptop demand,” Sok Channda said.

Anana imports 3,000 units per year for sale to 140 domestic retailers, with DELL models starting at $450 and Sony’s from $1,000.

Although Cambodian laptop prices have come down in the past two years, the Kingdom’s computers are still more expensive than those in other countries in the region – notably Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong.

The difference is due to the still-small shipments of laptops to Cambodia compared to more developed markets, said Ley Sopheap.

“We see other countries import millions of units, while we import around 80,000 units each year – that is the difference,” he said.

The Kingdom also has higher value-added tax than many other countries in the region, said Sok Channda. VAT in the Kingdom is 10 percent, compared to just 7 percent in Singapore, for instance.

Import duties are higher in Cambodia as well, said Chem Sorainy, a sales executive at PTC Computer, a wholesaler that imports 10 different computer brands from Singapore for domestic sale.

“The price difference between our country and other countries is due to import tax and quantity [shipped],” she said.

There are benefits to purchasing laptops domestically, said Ley Sopheap, namely five-year warranties that don’t require the damaged laptop to be shipped overseas, as would be the case on a foreign purchase.

Sok Channda recommended the government consider reducing taxes that inflate the costs of computers.

“We have our ICT working group to propose to the government reduced tax on imported computers to allow companies to import more and to sell at an affordable price so our people – including our students – will have computers to use,” he said. “This will make society improve the ICT sector.”

Like a rising number of young people, Vin Kagnara, a first-year student at Pannasastra University and the International Foreign Languages Institute of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, bought a laptop as a tool for studying.

She said the computer had become indispensable for her studies, but that she was disappointed she had paid a high price – she bought a $650 Acer in 2008, when prices were considerably higher.

“Prices have come down a lot – this is due to … the IT revolution,” said Vin Kagnara.

Some of her friends had invested in more affordable laptops from abroad, but a few had been burned by the warranty issue, she added.



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