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Dealer Info archief

jaargang 12, nummer 16, 2002

29 november, 2002

Gold Column

Think: IBM's rebranding
It's very interesting to see that IBM has this month relaunched itself into the PC business, where it is currently in third place - in the UK at least - behind the likes of Dell and HP/Compaq. The relaunch of Big Blue's PC division comes as IBM is rebranding its entire PC range under the Think name, a brand which, of course, it has enjoyed enormously success with its ThinkPad range of notebooks.
The rebranding means that the NetVista range will now be known as ThinkCentres, the monitors ThinkVision and so on. The real killer with the rebranding and relaunch is IBM's ImageUltra Builder software, which it is now supplying to its dealers. The idea behind ImageUltra is that dealers and distributors will be able to auto-install the most appropriate operating system and software on a machine, regardless of how the hardware of the PC is configured.
Even better is the fact that IBM says that ImageUltra will be capable of supporting other vendors' machines from the second quarter of 2003, which will allow IBM dealers to take over the support of complete company-wide systems, regardless of who did the support before.
In parallel with ImageUltra, IBM is offering its dealers access to Access Communications, a similar application that determines what communications a PC has access to - i.e. what LAN, broadband and similar services it can access.
Both packages have been designed to interact together, and install the most appropriate environment for users - automatically. Also in the pipeline from Big Blue is an embedded security chip that auto-encrypts (and decrypts) files on IBM's PCs, whether they're desktops or laptops.
No wonder IBM's dealers are reportedly very happy with the changes.
Ideal offers IT security products to resellers
Ideal Hardware has become the latest distributor to realise that there is healthy profitability in IT security. The long-running distribution operation is now handling US-based Imperito's range of SafeSecured Access security offerings in the UK. According to Ideal, the Imperito signing forms part of its dynamic focus on the security software market, which it says will see more partnerships with security vendors being signed in the near future.
Commenting on the signing, Alex Tatham, Ideal's vice president of software, said it is a significant one for the distributor. "As we help to grow Imperitos UK market share we'll be raising awareness of the issues surrounding security and helping our reseller partners," he explained. Tatham went on to say the the deal will open up new opportunities to win business in this important and growing sector.
NetIQ launches reseller incentive program
NetIQ has launched an incentive program for UK security resellers,
with a launch bonus of a five per cent rebate on all products sold before Christmas, backdated to the start of October.
Five per cent may not sound a lot, but when you consider this is on top of other discounts and standard profit margins that the firewall vendor already offers it resellers, it's a pretty good deal. Along with the rebate, participating resellers will also receive a variety of free sales and marketing materials and tools, free NFR (Not For Resale) evaluation software, and free sales plus product training.
The company says that these materials and tools aim to make the sale of NetIQ's firewall add-on products - WebTrends Firewall Suite and Security Reporting Centre - as easy as possible. By the time you read this, the scheme should have been rolled out across Europe, which has to be good news.
BT launches into PC sales market
It's been several years since BT, the UK's largest telco, withdrew
from the PC sales market, when it realised it couldn't compete with the cut-throat competition of the mid-1990s.
Even though hardware profit margins are even thinner these days - some might say paper-thin - BT has relaunched itself into the PC sales business, but not make a profit, more to supply customised PCs for customers to subscribe to its broadband (ADSL) services from.
This one-stop supply approach is why BT pitched into the then highly profitable PC business in the late 1980s. Even though things are a lot tighter these days, the telco reckons it can generate around 150 million pounds worth of extra sales for its broadband division every year. According to Angus Porter, BT Retail's managing director, it is important for the company to stimulate customer demand for broadband, as well as add value for its customers.
Plans call for the BT-branded machines to be supplied by HP/Compaq and Toshiba, and be available in BT shops, as well as though other outlets, just in time for Christmas.
Cynics might say that the machine should also just be in time to be sold off cheap in the post-Christmas January sales, but this writer would never make comments like that.
Westcoast taking Web orders for HP centre
Westcoast, a key Thames Valley PC distributor, has landed a fulfilment deal for HP's centres of excellence. The contract means that the distributor is now taking orders via its Web operations for these high profile outlets - a major advantage over competing distributors, Dealer Info notes. Westcoast has created a new Web site - www.hp-coe.com - which will allow those HP resellers with centres of excellent status to create their own branded storefronts, even though the orders are routed directly to Westcoast's headquarters in Reading.
Distributor fulfilment is nothing new, but the practice has died off a little in recent years, as margins on hardware have become thinner, and some distributors in the mid-1990s started misusing the information they gained access to via this method of sales. Data protection rules are, of course, lot stricter these days, and there's no hint whatsoever that Westcoast would dream of using this method of boosting non-channel sales.
The move is still, however, a very interesting one. It's difficult to see what HP's resellers gain from the deal, although I'm sure that HP/Compaq's press officers would put a different spin on things. For Westcoast, the deal is a killer, especially coming so soon after its linkup with three other distributors across Europe. That deal, announced a few weeks ago, and reported in the last issue of Dealer Info, aims to allow the four distributors to secure a direct supply contract with HP.
As reported previously, Westcoast has teamed up with Copaco of the Netherlands, Esprinet of Italy and also of Switzerland to form the alliance, which is known as the European Wholesale Group.
Adobe and Network Associates cut entry levels for customers
Adobe and Network Associates have both announced a reduction in the entry level for their respective software licensing schemes. The move means that customer companies no longer have to commit to buying a stack of software from the vendors in order to qualify for site licensing arrangements.
The change is very good news for resellers, especially the more specialist ones, as it means that customers can be a lot more self-administering when it comes to their software, but the dealer will still get a commission on sales of extra licenses.
Adobe has cut the entry point from 20 packages to just five, whilst Network Associates has cut its entry level from 50 units to 11 - not as ambitious as Adobe's, but welcome nevertheless. The changes are not for the benefit of resellers, you'll not be surprised to hear, as software vendors are concerned that some smaller resellers are making unlicensed copies of software for their customers, rather than mess around with organising site licences.
If this sounds familiar, the same thing happened in the late 1980s, when increasingly powerful 80386-based PCs were capable of ripping commercial software off at relatively high speeds.

IBM, www.ibm.com/think;
Ideal Hardware, 0044-20-82865000 (GB), www.ideal.co.uk, www.imperito.com;
Netiq, 0044-1784-454500 (GB), www.netiq.com;
British Telecom, www.bt.com;
Westcoast Distribution, 0044-118-9521500 (GB), www.westcoast.co.uk;
Adobe, www.adobe.com;
Network Associates, www.nai.com.

From his base in Sheffield, England, Steve Gold has been an IT-journalist for 22 years.
Email him at sg@mail.com.

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