Toshiba has been warned it could jeopardise its channel by selling new notebooks direct through its website, but it has said its reseller partners will not suffer.
By adopting a hybrid approach, Toshiba, the top-selling laptop vendor in the UK, is taking a risk, analysts have said.
Alan Thompson, managing director of Toshiba UK, admitted VARs would not like the move. But he said that although Toshiba would allow time-pressed buyers to buy notebooks direct, it would be at a premium price.
"We have spoken to SCH and Computacenter about this. They don't like it, but they understand," Thompson said.
Gary Evans, head of business development UK at Toshiba, added: "The products will be cheaper through the channel, which is and will remain our primary route to market."
Toshiba currently fulfils internet sales through distributor Ingram Micro, and no date has been set for the new laptops to appear on the site.
Andy Brown, analyst at IDC, said firms toying with direct sales should be careful. "When vendors have attempted to develop hybrid channels in the past they have failed, and any vendors adopting this strategy should display caution," he said.
"I expect this is only a pilot and resellers have been fully briefed. But it surprises me because Toshiba is doing well through retail and the channel."
Brown also pointed to the success of Acer, which is completely indirect.
"The company that is flying in the notebook market at the moment is Acer, which sells all of its products through resellers," Brown said.
"Acer is empowering its resellers because they know it will not sell any other way."
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