With its aim of being the world's number three PC company by 2000 firmly in mind, Toshiba is set to launch a range of consumer desktop PCs into the Australian marketplace in early 1998.
Toshiba general manager Bruce Lakin said the systems have been well received in the US marketplace, and is confident that they will be taken up just as readily by the Australian marketplace.
Lakin says desktop PCs are an integral part of Toshiba's strategy, even though notebooks are gaining a greater acceptance.
"When you actually look at the projections for the market growth, even aggressive growth in notebooks, the reality is by 2000 arguably 50 to 60 per cent of the market is going to be desktop computers. So if we want to be number three, we've got to play in that space."
While Toshiba has released commercial systems into the US market, its initial offering in Australia will be consumer-only. "It would be a smoother entry into the market through consumers, because at the end of the day when you think about going head-to-head with the Compaqs and IBMs of the world, who have been there for a lot of years, it's not going to be that easy," said Lakin.
But between now and then, the company is working to further improve its reseller relations, by beefing up its Web site and its call management centre.
Lakin said the Web site now contains a greater level of pricing and product information.
"Ultimately we're moving towards electronic-commerce. So we will ultimately have the channel communicating to us order entry online etc. That's likely to be a 1998 initiative."
While the Web is a focus for Toshiba, Lakin said its call centre has not been neglected. "We've always had a telephone support capability for channel and end users, but we've invested more money and put more resources into that. We're handling in the order of about 7000 to 8000 calls a month."
Despite the attention that electronic-commerce is receiving, Lakin feels call centres will always play a role.
"We don't think it will ever be replaced by the Web, and that's because there is a percentage of the people who want to talk to a live person. And easy and available as the Web might be, we're not going to stop people ringing up. We would hope that we could actually contain the cost of the call management centre, whilst we actually put more and more capability on the Web."