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Enter the dragon

Enter the dragon

Enter the dragon

One of the more interesting experiments of the last six months has been Compaq's launch into the networking hardware market. The company that claims leadership in desktops and servers is keen to extend its influence to the spaces in between.

The big question is, whether it'll be taken seriously by resellers and users. Business unit manager Ian Harvey is keen to make sure it is. Although he only stepped into the job at the Communication Products unit in January, Harvey is a Compaq veteran - he joined the company 11 years ago as employee number two, behind MD Ian Penman.

Back then Compaq was a pioneer. With networking, however, it steps into an overcrowded market - although fifteen years in the PC business should have taught it something about dealing in cut-throat markets.

Success or failure will take some time to gauge. While Harvey says Compaq has only been focused on communications this year, sales are starting to trickle in. He's also proud to say that Compaq holds the number three position in the NIC marketplace, given it has shipped a NIC with every server, and with all desktop units since 1994.

As for infrastructure products, IDC research analyst Martin Ross says Compaq marketshare still falls into the "other" category, although he expects that share to grow as the company leverages its name.

Retailing will also play its part, with Harvey indicating that Compaq networking products will turn up in Harvey Norman stores in Q3.

He acknowledges that sales growth will take time. He says expanding the reseller base is vital, and that Compaq is currently evaluating specialist distributors to help reach networking resellers it hasn't otherwise touched.

But there remains a degree of suspicion in the Compaq channel over its ongoing flirtation with direct selling. Compaq must now also reassure resellers of the role new acquisition Tandem will play, as that company operates a direct sales model.


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