Intel used its annual partner summit in Dubai to announce a channel revamp that will see it support – and possibly even financially reward – partners that sell as well as integrate its technology.
The chip giant has admitted it came close to canning the Intel Solutions Summit (ISS) this year before deciding that would send the wrong signal to its embattled 500-strong EMEA system builder community.
ISS 2010’s central message was that more care will now be lavished on partners that buy and sell as well as integrate its chips. This would represent a major channel model shift.
Steve Dallman, general manager of the worldwide reseller channel organisation at Intel, said: “Before, you couldn’t be a Premier partner if you were just buying and selling – you needed to be integrating. But as these firms were still making architectural decisions and telling SMEs what technology is best, we didn’t want to exclude their participation and influence.”
The strategy shift was sparked partly by the fact that emerging technologies, such as netbooks or tablets, are generally assembled in the Far East and cannot be integrated by the local assembler.
For this reason, Intel is launching the Intel Technology Provider (ITP) programme to ensure local assemblers that rely on third parties are not cut out of the loop on product information and support.
ITP, which aims to recognise individual sales staff at resellers, had not officially been launched at the time of going to press, as Intel was still fine-tuning the qualification criteria.
But Dallman revealed that certification is likely to be based around the partner’s revenues and technical resource. He also hinted that financial incentives could eventually be included in the programme.
Intel was keen for its channel to move with the times, and said ITP would help assemblers diversify from their roots in desktop, notebook or server assembly. After all, the size of IDC’s ‘others’ category in its PC rankings has shrunk rapidly and now stands at less than 20 per cent in the UK.
Dallman highlighted 30 new opportunities on its new computing continuum that ambitious assemblers could muscle in on, in markets such as medical imaging, digital signage and kiosks.
“We do not want a programme that excludes them if they move into one of those niches,” he explained. “The ITP idea lets us spread out what we are doing and bring other companies into it, which we haven’t had in the past.”
The extent of the traditional system builder channel’s demise has been well documented, with Evesham, Tiny and Time among those to go to the wall in recent years.
Intel failed to address the elephant in the room -- not providing figures on just how much market share the A-brands had gained since last year -- but Dallman denied furiously that Intel’s channel is in terminal decline.
Local system builders still account for half of Intel’s desktop business, he stressed, and have shipped about 70 per cent of Intel’s Lynnfield quad-core processors since the September launch.
And CRN did not have to look too far to find examples of UK system builders that are still thriving, having carved out niches away from a mass market dominated by HP, Dell and Acer (see panel).
Andrzej Bania, marketing director at system builder YoYo Tech, which specialises in the enthusiast market, said the firm is planning to open a facility in west London that would enable it to at least double its assembly capacity.
Bania was also quick to pay tribute to two rivals that have carved out a niche for themselves.
“VeryPC is all about the lowest wattage and Quiet PC is about ‘can you make my machine make no noise?’,” he said. “Here are two examples of taking something on the edge and making a good business out of it.”
Others present at the summit included FMS, which used ISS to unveil its move into the back-up market through its DataGrid brand. The 12-strong firm plans to hire 50 staff later this year to support DataGrid growth.
FMS technical director and DataGrid founder Samuel Gaw said he was glad ISS went ahead. “[Cancelling it] would have sent the wrong signals,” he said. “ISS gives you the networking opportunities in a way a virtual summit cannot.”
Intel’s UK and Ireland channel manager, Christine Harrison, also predicted 2010 would be a solid year for Intel’s channel. “Last year was a tough year, but going through it enabled system builders to find opportunities they otherwise would not have found.
“There is a great deal of A-brand pressure in the UK, but my channel is not shrinking and Q1 was a growth quarter,” she said.
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