Disruption in the PC Industry

by May 18, 2022 0 comments

Edited excerpts from an exhaustive video interview with Bikram Dasgupta, Founder & Executive Chairman, Globsyn Group & Former Director, Pertech Computers Limited (PCL)

”The year when IBM left (1977) we all said that we can do something now. But at that time, we had to define what is PC manufacturing? What is PC trading? How we differentiated it was that there were certain products where you could see the subassemblies separately; and as a whole. The PC then belonged to that category. There was a huge debate going on whether you could call it assembly or integration. The entire policy was getting framed on that basis. From the industry point of view, it was all energy, and enthusiasm of wanting to change India rather than actual knowledge of PCs. We were trying to do something that was not done before. HCL was one of the earliest companies and Dataquest was one of the earliest magazines of influence.

Selling hardware versus selling software

But there were many problems. The government was trying to stop fly-by-night operators but in the process aided them. Both over-invoicing and under-invoicing were happening. We were talking to the government to do something about it while the sales were going on. Everybody was facing the music. That continued for a while. There was software that had 160% duty. With distribution charges, the price went to such a huge level that nobody was able to buy the PC. This was a huge problem because initially, it was all about hardware, and we had to sell software free to the customer.

Much later we realized in terms of crashing duties, that it was better to go after software rather than the hardware. Hardware then could be sold with the added value of software. Finally, generic software duties crashed to zero percent. How thing has changed. Today hardware is selling only because of software. The selling jargon was first “IT” and then “solutions”.

But 1987 was a very good year for us at PCL when the transition happened when we went from trading the PCs to assembling them. Then there was a huge turning point in the early 1990s too. PCL was the first company in the industry that bought a surface-mount technology (SMT) plant for the manufacturing motherboards when I got the huge Dell order of $50 million.

The PC companies: The early entrepreneurs

You wouldn’t have seen this level of entrepreneurship, I will be aggressive enough to say, in any other industry. These entrepreneurs came from the middle class. The millionaires and billionaires came much later, but at that time the aspiration was created in the mind of an average student, who thought he could do something on his own. Today nobody talks about that contribution. That is the major revolution that happened. There was a total change in the way we started looking at things. I feel very proud we were among those groups of people who brought about that revolution.”

These are excerpts from a video chat with Editor Sunil Rajguru and part of our PCQuest 35 Years Series on the Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow of Technology.

Check out the complete interview…

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