Intel throws weight behind white-book channel

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Chip giant Intel wants the white-box channel to own 10 percent of the Australian notebook market over the next three years, as it pushes for local builders to be more competitive against the big brands.

Chip giant Intel wants the white-box channel to own 10 percent of the Australian notebook market over the next three years, as it pushes for local builders to be more competitive against the big brands.

Less than one percent of the laptop market today is owned by white-box builders, according to Philip Cronin, area sales manager for channel and distribution at Intel Australia.

In contrast, white-box manufacturers and assemblers own around 50 percent of the total Australian PC market.

Cronin said local assemblers need to “mirror the [laptop] offerings that multinationals bring to market”. Every three months, the chip vendor runs training sessions in order to educate resellers and system builders about what “wireless and mobility means”.

He said the channel needs to understand where mobility features within organisations, and be able to identify where organisations can make productivity gains through their outbound workforces.

The white-box channel “needs to establish credibility” with their brands. Local builder ASI Solutions has high visibility as a company, but may take a year or two to establish a reputable laptop brand and bring the right models in, he said.

Since March this year, ASI has introduced two notebook brands to the market, the Zeil and Amata models which start at around $2,200 plus tax.

Maree Lowe, director at ASI Solutions, said the company had sold around 1,500 laptops so far. She claimed that next year, if the company sold 10,000 units to the education market, around 40 percent of those units would be mobile computers.

Recent tenders within state government departments and corporate organisations have also asked for a laptop component, according to Lowe.
Lowe said white-box notebooks are a big opportunity for the channel. “I'm quite happy to re-badge for a reseller.”

ASI is also currently considering launching a notebook line for a retail chain, Lowe said.

Melbourne-based box builder and distributor Hallmark Computer International also jumped on the 'white-book' bandwagon last month, launching its own line of Viewmaster Portiva laptop computers.

Michael Ly, general manager at Hallmark, told CRN recently that the distributor imports the notebook chassis and builds-to-order the Centrino-driven machines.

The company is hoping to move around 1,000 pieces per month next year, said Ly, who claimed the Portiva was one of the slimmest notebooks on the market.

Ly said over the next six to 12 months the company wants to educate the channel to start accepting white-box notebooks to counteract the dominance of Dell Computer.

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