Microsoft sales squeeze changes channels for Softimage

Microsoft sales squeeze changes channels for Softimage

Softimage sales channels in Australia and New Zealand are changing because of pressure from Microsoft to boost sales of the animation software's Windows NT version. As a result, Distributor Digital Masters is altering its course to sign resellers with vertical market credentials instead of relying exclusively on its own direct sales efforts.

Digital Masters has appointed two official Softimage resellers: Video Bytes in Melbourne and Delta Technology in Queensland. A third, as yet unnamed, may be appointed early next year in Digital Masters' home turf of Sydney, said managing director Mark Williams. The move to resellers has been triggered by Microsoft's insistence on building sales volumes, especially of Softimage/3D for Windows NT. Digital Masters increased Softimage sales by 120 per cent last year only to have Microsoft double its quota again this year.

The bulk of that quota will be met by sales of the NT version of the animation, modelling and rendering package. "To get the numbers up, it makes more sense to find people in vertical markets and give them the product," Williams said.

Digital Masters intends to retain its direct sales channels in markets such as the film and entertainment industry.

However, this could involve walking a fine line since some of its new resellers, notably Video Bytes, will be addressing the same market.

Digital Masters will also continue to provide technical support directly to all Softimage users.

Microsoft bought Softimage two years ago and launched an extensive R&D program to develop Softimage/3D for NT. The pressure Microsoft is exerting on behalf of the NT version brings it into conflict with Silicon Graphics, traditionally the number one platform for Softimage users. Silicon Graphics runs Softimage under Irix, its variant of the Unix operating system. SGI has no plans to support NT, according to Martin Fogarty, general manager of Silicon Studio, the entertainment division of SGI.

"Letting someone else dictate the operating system on our system would limit our ability to innovate," he said.

"The main hardware vendors offering NT support for Softimage/3D are Intergraph [based on Intel Pentium processors] and Digital [with Alpha systems]," he said.

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