Sony has earmarked three distributors to aid the push of its VAIO range of notebooks into the SMB market.
The move is a strong change from Sony’s previous focus on the retail market when the VAIO range was available from partners such as Harvey Norman and Domain.
Effective immediately, Sony has launched with Tech Pacific, and in the short term, will continue its staggered roll out with Multi Media Technologies (MMT) and IT Wholesale.
The decision to partner with the three was based on their long-term customer relationship with Sony and on each company’s respective strengths.
Tech Pacific’s broad reach, MMT’s experience in VAR reseller come systems integration, and IT Wholesale’s SMB focus helped seal the deal according to Sony’s manager of business vevelopment and distribution sales, Vince Hanning.
Under the deal, Sony will help generate demand into business end users, according to Hanning.
Under the legally binding agreement with distribution partners, retail will not be a part of their portfolio, according to Sony product manager VAIO, Marcus Cornish.
Further distribution partners might be acquired by invitation by Sony with a certification program in place that took into consideration what the value-add at the distribution and reseller point was, whether a distributor was up to speed in selling laptops and whether an outbound sales force was in place and whether they could support customers, Hanning said.
‘We’re most interested in people who have relationships in place and operate within a vertical market”, he said. From Sony’s point of view, distribution gave the company business efficiency.
"What Sony is about is a delivering a solution through to an end-user as efficiently as we can and distribution is a vital part of that," Hanning said. Sony will be providing above-the-line marketing support and ongoing training programs for distributors, which in the past have focused on VAIO’s connectivity.
“By us moving into the reseller VAR market, we are by no means taking the focus away from retail," Cornish said, “it’s still really core for us”.
Sony is also at pains to play down VAIOs style over substance perception and talk up its power and performance to appeal to the SMB market. “We’re not the pretty boy come lately, we’re a serious notebook maker” Sony’s assistant PR manager, Lesley White, said. “We’re not out to target Apple or Toshiba or HP. We’re just making our own way and grabbing our own share with our own unique product.”
Gartner’s Andy Woo saw Sony’s move as an extension of the growth in the Australian mobile PC market, but that success would take some time. Woo said that it currently wasn't realistic for Sony to go after the government and corporate verticals.
“Sony should target niche industries like Graphics and Advertising,” he said.
“There’s very little difference in features in mobile pc”, Woo said. "Digital features aren’t enough. You need to build the right channel partners.”