Old PC market

When the Rs 10,000 personal computers (PCs) were launched they let out hopes of a digital dawn in every hamlet and small town across the country. However, the buyers never turned up. Perhaps they found better value in used gadgets; and the reasons are not far to see. A fully-loaded machine, just a few years old, is going for a song. Used laptops are even more affordable. Individuals and small businesses are lining up to buy them.

Sample this: an Intel Pentium-4 (P4) based PC costs Rs 8,500, a P3 may come for Rs 4,500. Used laptops cost Rs 12,000. The Celeron and AMD Athlon versions may cost even less. Prices vary on first party use.

Second hand computers (both, branded and assembled) cost a fraction of the cost of new ones making them affordable for a large segment who may not otherwise buy a PC. Typically, you will pay less than half the cost of a new PC for a used machine. The older the central processing unit (CPU), the lower the cost. CPU is the brain of a PC that does the processing.

And don’t be surprised if you come up with the just launched Dual Core or Core 2 Duo based PCs in the used mart. Second hand versions or refurbished versions are not readily available but dealers say that trying hard can land you the latest machines (these often come from people re-locating to another city or country).

And you can get imported second hand computers as well. “Consignment of used PCs are sourced by some traders in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata from the US and Korea. They import, refurbish and resell them,” says Pawan Jajodia, chairman of the exhibition committee of Compass. Compass is a Kolkata based body of IT traders and professionals. Compass recently held an exhibition of used computers where it sold PCs worth Rs 12 lakh. They got individual buyers as well as customers from small businesses.

“These countries have a rule where corporates are bound to replace PCs every few years. The law stipulate that they pay $35-40 per PC for recycling them. The concern for proper recycling comes into picture as PCs contain materials that can pollute the environment,” said an importer of a second hand PC. He added: “such computers will increase affordability and aid in national computer literacy.”

However, the government levies a penalty on import of second hand PCs — ranging between 40-60% of the consignment cost. The market is unorganised and there are about 8-10 importers of used PCs in Kolkata. Both Delhi and Mumbai have 40-50 importers each.

Within the country, corporates or individuals updating PCs frequently, feeds the supply of second hand market. There are also business houses that rent out PCs which eventually find their way to the used products markets.

The Chadni market and the Old China Bazaar in Kolkata are the places to look for used PCs and one can get a whole spectrum of configurations. In Delhi, Nehru Place offers some good options while for Mumbai it is Lamington Road. Typical customers include individuals who cannot afford a new computer and small businessmen.

“A large portion of such imported PCs are also brought by call centres. They require computers in bulk that can only be used for data entry and small amount of processing which any PC from P1 to P4 can manage,” said Mr Jajodia.

The Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC) guys are always on the look out for spares and parts for PCs that are not the latest. Such spares are not always freely available in the market. Used PC markets are happy hunting grounds for the AMC guys trying to repair client’s PCs. The bottomline: if you can’t afford a new one try a used one. A good bargain can get a PC complete with bells and whistles and at costs less than half that of the new.