Acer Computer Australia has again rankled some of its channel partners by winning another multimillion dollar deal using a direct sales approach.
Acer has scooped a lucrative preferred supplier agreement with Telstra, binding it to supply desktop PCs for Telstra's Standard Operating Environment (SOE) until June 30, 2000.
Despite just being an approximate quantity agreement with no guaranteed orders, the Telstra agreement has touched a nerve with concerned Acer channel partners who contacted ARN over what they percieve as a shift away from the channel towards a direct sales model.
Although Acer's marketing director Charles Chung was not willing to comment on the Telstra deal itself, he asserted that, just like last year's Victorian Department of Education sale (see ARN November 4, page 1), there would be spin-off benefits for Acer's channel partners.
This has indeed proven to be the case for at least one Acer partner, Invotek Group. Gadi Bichler, Invotek sales director, said that, although sceptical at the time, his company has subsequently won three such "spin-off sales".
As for the Telstra desktop deal, Alder said that the decision to supply direct for this latest contract was Acer's.
"To deal direct with the vendors was not a contract condition, but that was the way Acer approached the deal," he added.
According to Chung, the contract prevents him disclosing any information about the deal without Telstra's approval.
Still has to compete
However, ARN has established that under the agreement Acer will have to compete with Melbourne-based government PC supplier Ipex ITG to win a share of Telstra's estimated $10.5 million half-yearly budget for desktop needs.
Richard Kerr, national account manager for Telstra at Ipex ITG, said that Telstra has been operating in Standard Operating Environment for around five years during which time it had seven different companies as its SOE suppliers.
In June, the company went to tender for another new contractor after Samsung pulled out, citing the impact of the Asian crisis, and Acer won. Ipex was already an incumbent SOE supplier.