Welcome to '97. Just four years to the turn of the century (or three, for those of you who can't count).
Most of you are probably sick of hearing predictions about what's going to be hot and what's not. It's hard enough knowing how many inkjet printers to order this week, let alone what will be the killer videoconferencing protocol in a year's time.
And if you do decide to make a few predictions, you may as well start with the big names in the industry. Are any of the big players set for a fall, or at least for a takeover? It wouldn't be the computer industry if that didn't happen. And like any other year we'll see some almost religious conversions in the way some companies do business. Take Apple for example: it must have been a blinding, heavenly light that convinced that company to buy Next for $US400 million.
1996 was the year when most of the major vendors who had previously sold direct, rediscovered the channel. While this will continue this year, some observers also predict 1997 as the year many of the major companies will start selling computer products on the Internet. But who will they be trying to sell to . . . the knowledgeable corporate buyer, the first-time home buyer or the computer enthusiast?
Another problem for some vendors this year will be fighting perception in the marketplace. Novell is already having to counter a perception that NetWare is a legacy system.
The humble CD-ROM could also be the subject of soul-searching this year as some pundits claim it's had its day, regardless of the impending DVD introduction.
Another interesting local confrontation this year will be between the BSAA and SPA, both originating in the US.
The first is better-known for combating piracy with a club, the second with words and example. I wonder how much either of them will involve the Australian reseller community this year.
We mention with sadness that ARN's news editor Terry Banks has decided to return to the US. Terry has been an integral part of the ARN team right from the launch a year ago. While he'll be returning to the land of baking soda impregnated toilet paper (it's true, I bought a pack during Comdex) we'll be keeping in touch, and promise to have him write the odd missive on the US reseller scene. Good luck Terry!