The impressive growth of the whiteboard industry is not a blip but a sustainable trend, according to recent research by Decision Tree Consulting.
The analyst's Quarterly Insight report on the third quarter 2004 suggests that the market for interactive whiteboards more than doubled year on year in EMEA.
But critics have said the market has peaked in the UK after the intensive buying that followed the government's grant of £25m for schools to invest in technology.
"After [education minister] Charles Clarke gave schools £25m, we were bound to see a spike in spending on whiteboards," one reseller told CRN.
The report's author, Colin Messenger, said the audiovisual market had received an unusual boost from government investment. "Sales for 2004 will be unrealistic, because many schools have started spending their budgets for the second wave of investment now. But it isn't supposed to start until next year," he said.
However, he claimed the explosive growth in interactive whiteboard sales is sustainable in the long term.
"First, the schools market accounts for about only 10 per cent of the market. Second, the success of the initial investment has impressed many bodies. Many are ready to roll out the technology across the whole organisation," he said.
The first sales of interactive whiteboards were just the start, said Wayne Perkins, director of vendor Smart UK, which he claimed has more than half of the UK market. He predicted that schools and commercial organisations are likely to become more ambitious.
"They start off buying 50in boards, but second-generation sales are going to be 60in, 70in and 80in boards. That's the buying pattern we've seen," he said.
Smart has appointed a training manager to train resellers and collect feedback from customers. Only VARs that receive approval for their training from end-users will be given the fullest margins.
"It's all about eliminating the box shifters and rewarding those who add value," Perkins said.
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