The Editor's Awards are arguably the most coveted of the prizes on offer at the Channel Awards. This year, once again, there will be three categories: Outstanding Product, Channel Personality and the overall Editor's Choice.
Everyone agrees that winning one of these awards can make a big difference. Martin Cassidy, vice-president EMEA of Bluesocket, which scooped the product award last year for its WG-2100 Wireless Gateway, said the award gave not just the product range, but the whole company, a real boost.
"It was a huge endorsement. With so many competing wireless LAN technologies on the market, winning an award helped Bluesocket stand out," he said.
"This award has certainly helped expedite our penetration into the enterprise space, converting into increased leads and strong sales revenues for our channel partners."
Last year the Editor's Choice award, which has always gone to a specific company, went for the first time to a service: Ideal's LDi licensing system. This was an outstanding achievement which really stood out from the crowd last year, but this year's choice might be more difficult, according to CRN editor Sara Driscoll.
"It's certainly not going to be easy," she said. "Several vendors and distributors have made great strides this year. Ingram Micro has launched a build-your-own (BYO) notebook programme, which has been very successful in helping the system builder community maintain revenues.
"It has also set up a service that emails end-users automatically on behalf of resellers to remind them to renew their IBM software licences through their reseller, helping VARs with ongoing revenue streams and growing their IBM software business.
"Computer 2000 has also had a great year, growing its components business by 20 per cent and giving huge support to system builders. InTechnology has been worth keeping an eye on too since its acquisition of Allasso and its venture into the networking arena."
Several vendors have made great efforts to develop business in the mobility, security and convergence markets.
"BT Indirect Channels has launched a stream of programmes designed to help VARs grow their data revenues. It has handed over £200m worth of accounts to the channel from its direct business as part of its Managed Accounts Through Partners scheme," Driscoll said.
John Carter, managing director of distributor DMSL, also believes BT should be up for the Outstanding Product award.
"BT's Openzone in a Box was the first and remains the best hot-spot offering on the market. It has led the charge into the wireless broadband market, opening up new opportunities for resellers and ensuring that this market continues to grow and develop," he said.
Jon Atherton, general manager at distributor Entatech, said his choice would be D-Link's G604T wireless Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line router and four-port switch.
"It has sold well and we've seen a lot of synergy with the internet side of our business. For resellers it brings the broadband story together and makes it much easier to sell to SMEs," he said.
In the retail sector, Atherton claimed sales of XFX's high-performance graphics cards have been very strong, helping to sustain good growth in the high-end PC gaming market.
Driscoll added that many other products will also come into contention, including a number of 3G cards, the tri-band Blackberry and the latest Hewlett-Packard (HP) iPAQ. Both Intel and AMD have released impressive new processors, bringing the market into the 64bit era.
Stratus has launched some excellent fault-tolerant servers, while Microsoft has opened up new opportunities with CRM and its Business Solutions range.
"There has been such a raft of new products over the past year, from all of the different spectrums of IT, that it really will be a tough choice," she said.
The choice of Channel Personality is perhaps the most difficult to make, and the most interesting if you were running a book on it.
Last year's winner, David Atherton of dabs.com, was a popular choice, and he has continued to innovate this year. He recently launched his own IT television station.
High-profile figures in the reseller community such as Shaun Frohlich of Teksys, Gordon Davies of Compusys, Des Lekerman of Eurodata and Paul Barlow of Equanet all stand a chance.
From the distributor and vendor community, Fujitsu Siemens's Ian Snadden, Ideal's long-serving credit manager, Eddie Pacey, Paul Sangster of storage distributor Hammer, and Paul Cook of Acer are just a few of the many other names that spring to mind.
Go to www.channelawards.co.uk for more details. From 1 September you will be able to cast your vote on the site.
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