In what could be seen as an unlucky piece of timing, the WEFA Group of Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania (well why shouldn’t the Welsh take a place name with them – the English did enough of it) has this week come out with a report saying that all segments of China’s computer market are continuing to grow vigorously, but the highest growth is occurring in minicomputers. Minicomputers are perfectly matched to the requirements of the Chinese market, which is characterised by a vast number of organisations, each with very limited financial and technical resources, says Kim Woodard, author of the study and a researcher of trade and investment issues in China. Woodard is convinced that China will continue to emphasise the acquisition of microcomputers as more and more small organisations computerise parts of its operations, but that the largest organisations can’t satisfy their management and design requirements using micros, and can’t afford to buy mainframes or have the technical staff to maintain them. Woodard believes that the minicomputer is the obvious long-term answer for the large Chinese enterprise, research institute, government bureau and university, although it seems unlikely that much work will be done at universities over the next few months. Woodard reckons China has 11m commercial establishments, 480,000 industrial enterprises, 100,000 branch banks and financial institutions, 100,000 government offices, 60,000 hospitals, 6,000 research institutes, and 1,100 colleges and universities – If just 10% of these organisations were to buy a minicomputer, the market would be 1.2m systems, of which only 4,000 have been installed to date – but chances of buying them from the US is likely to be much reduced.
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