Panasonic hopes to make 2004 the year of the Toughbook, pledging to push its ruggedised notebook beyond its specialist niche out to the road warrior consumer.
The market for its Toughbook line was probably the most unrealised opportunity within the vendor’s portfolio, channel sales manager, Peter Dawson, said.
As the largest supplier of ruggedised notebooks to the US military, Panasonic was largely selling Toughbooks to military, utilities, engineering and farming businesses, Dawson said.
“The transition for us is to move into general purpose notebooks," he said. "Road warriors are the next big market for us.”
It was early days for the local ruggedised market, Dawson said.
“We’ve encountered no serious competition at all in Australia,” he said.
A key differentiator for the vendor was that Toughbooks were designed from the ground up, rather than adding on external ruggedisation features such as casing, Dawson said.
The challenge for the dealer would be establishing with the customer that they had a need for a ruggedised notebook.
“Anything that goes outdoors is our territory with that proposition,” he said.
With a price premium of 15 to 20 per cent over other notebooks, Dawson said a key selling point was the replacement rate compared to normal notebooks: “The replacement rate on these things is not zero but close to it.”
“The warranty conditions are just the same [as a normal notebook] except we don’t wipe your warranty for using it in a hostile environment, while others do.”
Dealers would be pleased by the margins, which were comparble to office equipment margins rather than IT margins, he said.
Panasonic’s Ruggedised Toughbooks start at RRP $5899.