Industry watchers are saying Banksia's recent acquisitions of Simplecomputing and Dataplex may make it possible for the manufacturer to leapfrog NetComm for the number-one position in the modem market.
In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in the modem market who doesn't think the acquisitions put Banksia in an enviable position. "I think there are two inferences to be drawn," said Hayes country manager Andrew Phillips.
"One: This places Banksia very close to taking away the number-one position in the modem market from NetComm after 15 years. Two: It's clear this is part of an overall strategy on the part of Banksia to significantly broaden their reach. Acquiring Simplecom-puting gained them ground in the retail market and Dataplex will do a lot for them in the corporate sector," he said.
"However, I think it also means they've made a significant departure from resellers. Dataplex sold directly into the corporate market and Simplecomputing, although they also sold through resellers, had a direct sales model in place. That's likely to end up creating a fair amount of conflict for them."
Chris McPherson, national marketing manager of NetComm, agrees. "I think the acquisitions do a lot to broaden Banksia's range and allow them to compete with us in some areas they haven't been able to in the past - with rack modems, for example. But I also think it presents them with a significant problem in terms of the channel," he said. "In short, they've purchased two companies that are not channel organisations, and I think it's likely that may result in conflict within their product range."
Over in the distribution corner, the jury is still out. "Acquiring Simplecomputing was an obvious move for Banksia because it provides them with the ability to mirror NetComm's Avtek range. But they still can't beat Avtek pricing or even NetComm's pricing, so how much it will do for them in that regard remains to be seen," said Niels Kofahl, director of modem distributor Tecksel. "Buying Dataplex gives Banksia access to the high-end market, and that will probably prove more useful."
Kofahl sees potential channel problems, too. "When you mix channel and direct sales, it can be a recipe for disaster. Simplecomputing tried to do it and it didn't work," he said. "I think if Banksia plays its cards right they'll be in great shape, but I also think there will be a number of problems to iron out first."
Banksia's national sales manager, Colin Dagger, acknowledges the company has taken on two organisations that contrast with Banksia in some ways, but says incorporating them won't be difficult. "The individual character of each company will be retained. In many ways, they'll continue to operate independently," he said. "All bringing Simplecomputing and Dataplex on board does is extend our reach." Does Dagger think it will bring Banksia the coveted number-one position in the market? "Who knows? And simply being 'number one' doesn't necessarily mean you've got all that much more money in the bank. It's largely symbolic."