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Editorial: For services rendered

Editorial: For services rendered

Two start-ups feature prominently in this week’s channel news — with both looking to grow a business in areas they suggest have been neglected to date.

Contender number one, CPU, is offering third-party warranty services backed by an insurance company. While the model has apparently been operating successfully for six years in the UK, the local channel players ARN spoke to were less than excited.

There seemed to be two main reasons for this — extended warranties are already available from most vendors; and third-party offerings have come and gone too often over the years to merit any serious consideration at such an early stage. Having said that, current market conditions mean any additional source of revenue will be welcomed by smaller resellers and it will be interesting to see if CPU can get a foothold.

Hopeful number two, PC Masters, wants to build a national network of vans offering onsite services including repairs and maintenance, training, network implementations and data recovery.

While the target number of franchises seems a little ambitious — 500 would mean PC Masters vans were only slightly less populous than Pizza Hut mopeds — the success claimed by a similar operation in the exciting world of high-pressure industrial hoses suggests the business model could work.

Speaking of services (a tenuous link if ever there was one) Allan Brackin’s decision to call time on his four-year stint as Volante Group CEO came as something of a surprise last week. But, quite apart from the announcement that he is to stay for now on and help the board find his replacement, history tells us it would be premature to bid him farewell, just yet, as there is an obvious and recent precedent.

Only last year, Kaz Group founder, Peter Kazacos, announced his intention to stand down from the CEO role to concentrate on strategic initiatives. As we all know, the search for a replacement was less than fruitful and Kazacos event­ually kept hold of the reins until agreeing to sell out to Telstra for $333 million earlier this year. Even now, he is still planning to run Kaz as a standalone unit in the Telstra empire.

The development of a similarly intriguing saga seems unlikely at Volante because Brackin is not as tightly woven into the company fabric, but news announcements that claim something is going to happen in the future are usually best treated with a wait-and-see approach.

Over in the imaging and printing world, Canon is involved in a game of anything you can do I can do better with HP. Last week, HP announced it was going direct to its top printing customers in an attempt to drive uptake of cost-per-page service relationships designed to eat into the business of copier giants such as Canon and Xerox. This, it was claimed, would open up a whole new world of opportunities for HP printer resellers.

Now it seems Canon has had a look over the HP side of the fence and spotted a nice patch of green grass in the multifunction printer (MFP) market. It is launching an aggressive campaign to target, yes — you guessed it, HP market share. The MFP market is going to be one of the most fiercely contested during the next couple of years and it will be interesting to see which vendor, if any, manages to get a stranglehold on it.

What do you think?

Brian Corrigan is Editor of ARN. Reach him at brian_corrigan@idg.com.au


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