Confusion and mystery shroud the future of the Hewlett-Packard (HP) Centre of Excellence scheme, launched with great pomp and ceremony in 2001.
Aimed at increasing HP's share of the SME market, the scheme appears to have been put on the back-burner since the launch of HP's PartnerOne programme, leaving those that signed up to it at a loss.
Sue Richards, managing director of reseller EBM, said: "The Centre of Excellence scheme seems to have died a death. It was a brilliant concept, and it's a shame it seems to have been shelved, especially as we put so much time and money into it."
HP has been focusing instead on its direct business to compete with Dell.
Following the posting of its second-quarter results last week, Carly Fiorina chief executive of HP, told analysts that the firm's direct sales effort continues to "gather momentum".
Susanne Dansey, sales manager at VAR Readycrest, said the direct strategy is affecting the channel.
"The reason (for the Excellence scheme) was to give customers the point of contact that vendors such as Dell don't provide. If HP keeps chasing Dell it will end up no better than it. This provides a great opportunity for IBM, Fujitsu and Acer," she said.
"The strategy works, but it appears to have been overtaken by the PartnerOne scheme. A lot of partners, including us, still support HP, but feel it is concentrating too much on Dell."
Shaun Lapworth, chief executive of The Lapworth Consultancy, said: "I have been trying to find out from HP what is happening. It is disappointing, but it is not affecting my business. I have plenty of other things to worry about without getting involved in HP's politics."
Shaune Parsons, managing director of VAR Computer World Wales, said: "I have come to the end of my tether. It feels like one minute HP is all over us, and the next we are out in the wilderness."
Despite repeated requests from CRN, HP was unable to comment.
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