Computer manufacturer Optima announces CE product division

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Computer manufacturer Optima Technology Solutions is set to broaden its product and retail horizons with the creation of a consumer electronics division. From Q4 this year, the whitebox supplier will offer products across three areas - displays, mobile entertainment and home entertainment.

The new division adds a second string to Optima's bow as part of its diversification strategy. Announcing the CE division at its partner conference today, Optima's executive chairman Cornel Ung said the three-pronged strategy - to manufacture computing, consumer electronics and communications - was poising the company for growth.

"With our proven expertise in integrating leading edge technology into innovative products that are supported by a nationwide supply and service network, we are confident we can effectively penetrate this market," said Ung.

From launch, Optima will offer three different LCD and plasma displays. Later in the year it will add DLP projectors. The LCD products will range from 23-inch to 32-inch models, while the plasma displays will range from 42-inch, with a 50-inch model expected at Christmas or shortly afterwards.

The first product from the mobile entertainment range will be available from next week. The 256MB capacity A120 MP3 player - priced at $149 - will be available from next week.

Further mobile products, including a 'jukebox' hard disk music player and a portable LCD display DVD player, will be in stock before Christmas.

The third product area - home entertainment - will kick off in November with the launch of a DVD-RW recorder, expanding to include home theatre systems in Q1 next year. The home theatre range will offer integrated and standalone products, such as amplifiers and tuners.

The products are being designed and manufactured by Optima's research and development team in partnership with its manufacturing team overseas, said CE division national sales head David McGill.

Because Optima was using existing manufacturing relationships and its established back end logistics, McGill refuted the suggestion that a move into CE was a big change for the computer manufacturer. "The underlying business principles and logistics are very similar. It's very easy for Optima to deliver this."

Optima will add about a dozen new staff to support the division, including product managers, product engineers and account representatives, said McGill. Optima was cross-training its computer sales reps to allow them to service existing customers with CE products, he added. McGill also retains responsibility for Optima's consumer PC sales.

Adding a CE division, and the planned Communications division, would enable Optima to offer end-to-end capabilities to supply product, service and integration into the home market, said McGill. Optima will introduce communications products and solutions within 12-18 months, he said.

Marketing would also be crucial, he added. "Because we're in a new product range, we want to make sure we target the right customers."

While Optima's current partners will all be given access to the new CE products, it is still finalising its channel line up and strategy for metropolitan regions, said McGill. The manufacturer was in talks with potential retail partners, he confirmed.

The move into CE places the computer manufacturer squarely in mass merchant retail territory. Its current mass merchant retail partners for its PC range currently are Dick Smith, Retravision, Leading Edge and Good Guys.

Optima's 200 existing dealers, including 120 Leading Edge stores, were adequately serving regional areas, said McGill:  "We're not looking for any more regional guys." The metro partner line up will be finalised over the next six to eight weeks, he added.







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