Despite the overwhelming size and scope of Comdex, an increasing number of Australian companies, keen to make an impression on the world IT market, have given the Comdex wheel a spin.
Ten of the companies exhibited their wares on Austrade's Australia stand. These were primarily companies dipping their toes into the US export waters for the first time, but also included others for whom working with Austrade previously has been worthwhile. The stand provides something of a curiosity point at Comdex, partly because of America's current fascination with Australia, as well as a growing recognition that there might be some interesting IT products coming out of Oz.
Among the companies exhibiting at the Austrade stand were NDG Software, The Smart Company, Harvest Road, Stone Microsystems, Tower Systems, Wiser Software, TSC Financals, Prometheus, Squirrel Internet and Aries.
Stone Microsystems' general manager of sales and marketing, Inaki Gonzalez, said his company has demonstrated that Australian companies can design and build hardware. Stone was promoting CenterNET 2, an ultra thin-client system comprising a PCI adaptor card and client station. Gonzalez said that he had received enquiries from several top 10 PC hardware companies including "strong interest from a tier-one manufacturer".
Melbourne-based Wiser Software was promoting its multimedia authoring tool, Wiser Educator. Managing director of Wiser, Tassos Ioannides, said that although the product was currently sold directly to schools and colleges, he was looking for more reach to teachers and trainers. "It's a very specialised marketplace both in Australia and overseas but we are determined to penetrate the US market and will do everything required to achieve this," he said.
Another Melbourne-based company to launch a product at Comdex was software developer Tower Systems International. Tower released Retailer, a point-of-sale software package aimed at smaller independent retailers.
According to managing director Mark Fletcher, the tools in Retailer help businesses focus on what is working in their retail shop through powerful reports such as return on investment and floor space, return by supplier, department and category. After only the first day of the show, Fletcher said he had already spoken with a couple of very good distribution prospects. "It's good being part of a presence at Comdex (with Austrade) with its infrastructure making my investment more cost effective," he said.
Other Australian companies not part of the Austrade exhibit were reporting a generally favourable reaction to the show and the potential benefits.
The Australian company with the biggest individual presence was digital image software specialist Ixla. Although not very widely known at home, Ixla has established licensing and bundling agreements with a virtual who's who of digital photography and scanning vendors. Its digital camera suite software is bundled with product from companies including Casio, Sony, Samsung and LG Electronics. Soon-Heng Teh, Ixla CEO, said: "We would like to network with more companies. A lot of Australian companies want to market in the US but they get overwhelmed. Other than CeBit, this is the most important event in the IT industry."
Melbourne-based WinRadio Communica-tions was demonstrating its PC-based radio monitoring and receiver products, normally sold through specialist radio resellers, but gathering interest from the IT channel both domestically and in the US. Product man-ager Tariq Hasnie said: "While we have resellers already in the US, we are hoping the product gets picked up by one of the major distributors."
The software and radio receiver is designed and manufactured in Melbourne, and represents another opportunity for resellers in the multimedia and communications arenas.
Sydney startup software developer Dipolar released Professional Quest, a Windows-based questionnaire design and analysis tool to simplify the collection and analysis of survey data. According to co-founder and CEO James Beauchamp, Professional Quest is the first of the company's shrink-wrapped style of product, and is designed to be used by professionals who don't have any specific survey software expertise. "It has Windows wizards concepts which guide users through the product and would suit a retail sale situation," Beauchamp said.
He added that they had received good enquiries at the show from several distributors, both in the US and Europe, as well as end users from insurance companies and universities.
Export veteran Turbosoft was again promoting its full featured terminal emulation package, TTWin. Keren Cox, Turbosoft business and channel development manager, was handling a steady flow of enquiries when ARN visited the stand, but was able to explain that, with numerous high-profile clients already in the US such as MGM Grand, Stratos and Oral B, the company was looking to increase its coverage in this market.
As well as end users, their target audience includes OEM application developers and resellers.