An abrupt decision by major keyboard manufacturer Key Tronic to dump its price-hiking OEM partner Honeywell could signal a surge of Australian reseller interest in the popular product.
Key Tronic, which is currently based in the US, will shortly launch into the Australian market, and this could mean a halving of the price resellers and customers have previously been paying for the same product.
According to Key Tronic marketing communications manager John Barnes, the high prices that Honeywell applied to the keyboards in Australia had been a contentious issue, eventually leading to the end of the agreement. In some instances, keyboards were sold at more than double their legitimate market value, leaving Honeywell with massive margin gains.
"Those Honeywell-badged keyboards currently with a retail price of around $80 [the KT 2000] will be available at around $40, while the Honeywell Spacemate model currently sold for around $45 [the KT 6101] will be packaged as the Phoenix and is expected to be priced around $25," he said.
Barnes added that Key Tronic is looking to snare upwards of 40 per cent of the independent keyboard market in Australia, which he estimated at more than one million units per year.
And many Australian resellers look set to seize upon this opportunity.
The potential drop in keyboard pricing surprised Raymond Wong, the general manager of Perth-based systems integrator and PC retailer Trinix Computers.
"At those prices, we would consider using them as standard with our systems," Wong said. Trinix, which supplies systems to both corporate and retail customers under the brand 3NX, is a perfect example of Barnes' reference to greater market penetration.
Another interested channel player, Sydney-based value-added reseller AVO Computers, has been selling Honeywell keyboards for eight years.
Its managing director, Leo Cheng, said that he had seen a replacement Honeywell "multimedia keyboard product" from an alternative manufacturer, but felt that it was best suited to the home market.
He indicated that he would stock the new Key Tronic products as soon as they were available.
Having ended its OEM arrangement with Honeywell, Key Tronic will from May begin supplying keyboards under its own name in an exclusive distribution deal with Electronic Resources Australia (ERA).
Confirming the arrangement with Key Tronic, Michael Shea, managing director of the now Ingram-owned ERA, expects to shake up the keyboard market with what he described as ERA's more focused distribution model.
A spokesperson for Honeywell confirmed that a new multimedia keyboard - the Euroboard - has been released and carries an RRP of $89.95, and it would soon release the $49.95 Spacemaker 2.
Besides keyboards, Key Tronic's products also include mice, smart card readers and fingerprint recognition devices.