Compaq has performed an about-turn over its decision not to enter into channel assembly in Europe, bowing to pressure from rivals IBM and HP as they move ahead with their own programmes.
Speaking to PC Dealer, Mike Winkler, senior vice president and general manager of the PC products group, said there would be some 'light manufacturing' within the European channel because of the consolidation among UK and European distributors and resellers.
James Griffith, Compaq senior product manager for desktops in the UK, confirmed the move but insisted it would not happen this year. 'There will be a re-evaluation for EMEA in 1999,' he said.
The about-turn comes three months after comments by senior Compaq UK staff, who claimed channel assembly was not suitable for the manufacturer.
In February, Alan Peat, UK manager of Compaq's optimised distribution model - the umbrella programme for Compaq's BTO and CTO strategy - and Peter Blampied, UK small and medium business manager, rejected any suggestions of channel assembly in the UK.
Blampied added that the ratio of US to European Compaq resellers made European channel assembly impractical. 'The nine channel partners in the US represent 85 per cent of the market,' she said. 'In Europe, 85 per cent is equivalent to 400 partners. Control, investment and implementation is a challenge.'
Mike Norris, Computacenter CEO, said: 'When I was with Compaq in the States, it said channel assembly was back on the agenda.'
Another UK reseller said Compaq did not know what horse to jump on. 'Compaq is confused about its relationship to the channel,' he remarked. He added the situation was indicative of vendors trying to forge the most economic models with their customers.
Vince Smith, marketing programmes manager of the IBM Personal Systems Group, commented: 'Imitation is the best form of flattery.' He also accused Compaq of 'skating along the periphery of channel relations'.
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