Toshiba's relaunch into the desktop world will not occur until at least 1997, if at all. That's the message from Toshiba executive marketing manager Ralph Marshall, when asked if the move represented a shift away from Toshiba's traditional focus on mobile computing.
Marshall said that desktop computing is merely one area that Toshiba is investigating as part of a program of expanding its market. He said it is far too early to discuss channel arrangements.
Toshiba, both in the US and locally, was in the PC market many years ago, before adopting its message of the desktop computer being all you need. So far, that strategy has been highly successful, with Toshiba regularly occupying the top portion of PC sales figures on the strength of its mobile sales alone.
Marshall said it is too early to speculate on where Toshiba desktop PCs will be sold, saying they could turn up anywhere from white goods stores to high-end resellers. Toshiba traditionally has been successful in the education market, and a move to desktop PCs may well help leverage its brand name into both this area and the home market.
The move has met with support from the reseller community. Computer Hardware of Australia national marketing manager James Robbins is looking forward to the introduction of Toshiba desktop models. "Although product details and specifications have not as yet been released, we're quite excited about the prospect of Toshiba introducing a range of desktop PCs into the Australian market. We are of the belief that Toshiba will be able to emulate the success that they've had with their mobile computer range to date in Australia."
IDC analyst Bruce McCabe is less certain about Toshiba's prospects, believing its strength in Australia to be very much a product of the company's focus. "I think we've seen a number of vendors successfully pursue that sort of strategy, whether it be focusing on a product range such as mobile PCs or a vertical market. They risk diluting that strength by getting involved in the desktop market, and in particular because of the decline in margins that's taking place everywhere, they risk having to subsidise from their mobile sales." McCabe thinks this will be especially evident in the early years while the company is attempting to gain market share.
A possible option is for Toshiba merely to act as a supplier rather then a marketer, reselling another company's equipment when required.