Resellers will play a central role in the convergence of IT and consumer electronics, according to Optima managing director, Cornel Ung. But most need additional training from vendors if they are to take advantage of this growing market.
Ung was speaking at a launch event in Sydney that saw Optima introduce a raft of new products including plasma televisions, a digital set-top box, desktops, notebooks and servers.
The announcement included 42-inch and 50-inch high-definition televisions (HDTVs) that will hit the market in April. But unlike most of the major multinational vendors, Optima will push its HDTV models through its traditional dealer base as well as Leading Edge, Retravision and the Good Guys. "Resellers need training from the manufacturers," Ung said. "But they will play a major role [in convergence] because the home market will require lots of services."
And although specialist AV shops have jumped the gun on the traditional IT channel, Ung predicted the balance would shift again as the convergence trend continued.
"Len Wallis will continue to own the top end of the consumer market," he said. "But there is a great opportunity for the IT channel to get in at entry-level and provide technology from both sides."
Ung said Optima had been caught short by demand for its first foray into the television market - a 42-inch standard definition set launched in December.
Optima was still processing backlogs in the system, he said, after 10,000 orders were received instead of the 2000 he had been expecting.
Next for Optima will be the launch of its AV form factor Media Center Edition PC.
The company had originally planned to have it on the market in time for the Christmas shopping season but had been held up by technical issues. It is now due to be released in April.
A data projector designed for home or business use, a range of LCD televisions with screen sizes between 20- and 37-inches and an MP3/MPEG4 personal media player are also planned for the first half of this year.
A rear-projection television, as well as 55- and 61-inch plasma models, are scheduled for the second half of 2005.
While the Optima CE business is still in its infancy, Ung suggested it could account for a quarter of all Optima revenues by the end of the year. Its product revenues are currently dominated by desktop PCs (82 per cent) but Ung is keen to grow its presence in the notebook and CE markets.
Direct sales to government, education and corporate customers currently account for 49 per cent of the company's business, with retail at 29 per cent and 22 per cent channel.