TravRoute, Belkin channel Ingram for GPS sales

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US Global Positioning System (GPS) vendor TravRoute has ditched specialist mobility distributor Brightpoint in Australia, instead partnering Belkin in a broad-based Ingram Micro deal.

US Global Positioning System (GPS) vendor TravRoute has ditched specialist mobility distributor Brightpoint in Australia, instead partnering Belkin in a broad-based Ingram Micro deal.

Andrew McCrudden, MD at US-based TravRoute said the company had decided to work with Belkin to launch its Belkin CoPilot Live Bluetooth GPS Navigation System for PDAs, harnessing Belkin's distribution agreement with Ingram Micro.

McCrudden hinted that working through distributor Brightpoint had proved less than satisfactory. 'We used Brightpoint but it didn't work out,' he said. 'That was not a good focus for us.'

He said also that TravRoute, which entered the Australian market 18 months ago, didn't properly understand the Australian market. Also, TravRoute wasn't strong in marketing and had therefore decided instead to piggyback on the expertise of established mobility and networking player Belkin.

'We were using small retailers to [sell our GPS here]. We were selling through Harris Technology and Harvey Norman,' McCrudden said.

The retail agreements would continue, but as far as distribution was concerned TravRoute had decided to concentrate on its Belkin relationship.

TravRoute GPS had been selling here 'in the thousands' since local release eight months ago, he said.

Potential buyers had tended to ask 'a lot of questions' about the product which its previous channel hadn't seemed well-placed to answer, McCrudden said.

Getting the product – which uses Windows-based PDAs, PocketPCs or notebooks -- off the ground meant incorporating local geographical data, such as from the UBD and Yellow Pages directories, he added.

Yet GPS in general was far more useful than it had been several years ago and ready for broader Australian take-up. 'Tracking systems a year ago were around $2000 and a lot were struggling but the cost today is $1 or $2 a day and we use tracking through GPRS,' McCrudden said. 'And we're coming out with new products.'

A crucial part of GPS is local satellite coverage. Satellites now covered a much greater proportion of Australia, he added.

The Belkin CoPilot also allows users to enter information about speed camera locations and is pre-loaded with information on 37 NSW speed cameras, Belkin said in a statement.

Denis Valente, product manager at Belkin in Australia, said Belkin CoPilot was expected to prove popular with 'road warriors' and other travelling workers, whether working for large organisations or SMBs.

'We have had take-up from all our mass retail accounts and our corporate market. We're expecting it to go very well, and also in the OEM market. We have been taking orders for a couple of weeks,' he said. 'We're hoping it sells into a lot of VARs.'

Valente said Belkin believed that Ingram Micro's broad reach would help achieve that aim.

The TravRoute deal was the first time Belkin had partnered with a GPS vendor in Australia. However, the deal copied what Belkin had done in other countries, he said.

Belkin had developed a similar product in the US but its 'connections over here' and the local cost of data meant it made more sense to partner TravRoute, he said.

'In the US, people buy hardware and go down the shop and buy software. Here there are many fewer players in the software market and prices are much higher and data is much more highly controlled,' Valente said. 'So we had to partner.'

He said that Belkin had felt TravRoute had the strongest product in the Australian market. 'They're market leaders in retail GPS. They have the best product, the best software and significant local presence,' Valente said.

Brightpoint was contacted by CRN for comment on TravRoute's claims but had not replied at press time.

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