Ingram Micro is going head-to-head with hard-ware vendors after setting up a white box manufacturing plant in Europe to sell PCs to its resellers.
The giant distributor launched an assembly and configuration facility in Memphis, Tennessee, earlier this year to supply vanilla boxes to a select group of resellers selling their own brands. It will now establish a similar operation in the Netherlands later this year.
According to Sandy Scott, recently appointed UK MD of Ingram Micro: 'The plan is to repeat that in Europe by the end of the year. PC configuration will continue within individual countries.' He insisted the plan was not to produce own-branded PCs for Ingram.
He refuted the notion of conflict with PC vendors like IBM and Hewlett Packard, for which Ingram already plays an integral part in their channel assembly programmes. 'I don't see it as an issue, provided it is handled properly,' he added.
But Bill O'Riordan, commercial desktop brand manager at IBM Personal Systems Group (PSG), wrote off the venture. 'With the selling of PCs, it comes down to brand. I doubt resellers will be tempted to buy white boxes. There is also the question of support, which they generally only get from their vendors.'
HP was unavailable to comment.
Distributors have tried white box manufacturing in recent times, with varying degrees of failure. In 1995, Computer 2000 (Frontline at the time) had its low-end PC2000 line of desktops, which it originally targeted at retailers. It later decided to move into the higher end, corporate market, to its detriment.
CHS abandoned its foray into the UK own-brand PC business in August 1997, a year after the parent distributor disclosed plans to manufacture them through its German acquisition, Frank & Walter.
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