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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hot Demand to Power Local PC Makers in '96

This should be another year of solid growth for the Russian computer business.

The big winners in 1996 could turn out to be local companies. A handful of strong local manufacturers, especially VIST, should continue their rapid growth. These companies will begin to enjoy better brand recognition and should be able to sell PCs based on the newest technologies more quickly than ever.

Sales of imported PCs will include a much greater number of famous name brands as the market becomes more sophisticated and fragmented.Micron, ICL and Siemens-Nixdorf all have pledged to invest more money in developing the Russian market for their PCs. Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Compaq can be expected to be the chosen PCs for cautious buyers, and there are no signs that the unstoppable rise of Acer in Russia will slow down next year. While Apple Computers is unlikely to become a big player in the high-volume PC market here, it could benefit from a fast-growing publishing market.

The upgrade market will also be a big business in 1996 -- fueled by falling component prices. More and more end-users will be buying parts to install themselves. Given the growing popularity of multimedia, this means CD ROM drives, video cards, random access memory (RAM) and sound cards are all likely to be bought in larger numbers by end-users and specialists.

The biggest growth in demand is likely to be for RAM. Most PCs sold in Russia in 1995 had too little pre-installed RAM for Windows 95 or many of the best computer games. Most imported PCs use more expensive 72 pin SIMMs with parity. This kind of RAM comes in more varieties than 30 pin SIMMs used by most Russian assemblers and is more difficult to buy in Russia.

An increasing number of Russians will be using PCs at home. The use of PCs for home entertainment will grow as affordable PCs are now able to run pretty stunning computer games. Games now available on Nintendo and Sega games machines should all eventually be ported onto the PC. The habits of former times are becoming less strong. Keeping a computer (or other expensive products) in your apartment is now far less of a problem.

Use of the Internet in Russia should increase in 1996 as more people find out what it is, how it helps you to work more efficiently and how it links you to the rest of the world. There should be a lot more Russian content on the World Wide Web in 1996. This should encourage more people in this country to make use of it. Already a few Russian companies have realized the benefits of advertising themselves on the World Wide Web, and this trend should be quite quick to catch on.

The Russian software market should see some growth with more companies buying package software. Piracy levels should fall and Microsoft promises some high-profile legal actions against a few bad offenders. A big question mark hangs over the progress of MS Windows 95 in Russia. The memory requirement of Microsoft's new operating system may put off many price-sensitive Russian customers. It may not be until 1997 that this operating system becomes "mainstream" here. Since Windows 95 is a much better platform to work with in multiple languages than Windows 3.1, it should make it easier for Russian companies to develop their own applications for Windows 95 and easier for Western companies to localize popular products for the Russian market.

Robert Farish is the editor of Computer Business Russia fax: 198 6207, Internet e-mail: