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Panasonic rebates removed in a flash

Panasonic rebates removed in a flash

He pointed to plasma screens, TV tuners and Microsoft's Media Center Edition platform as some of the digital convergence items blurring the boundaries.

"All of these are causing conflict in the channels - it's a really touchy issue," he said. "Some companies are putting pressure back on the vendors as their traditional space is being eaten into by the IT sides. You can't blame Panasonic for wanting to protect long-serving customers like Harvey Norman and Retravision."

Alloys managing director, David Guttman, was also disappointed Panasonic had chosen to cut the IT channel out of discounted wholesale pricing for digital cameras and projectors.

He said whether or not to give the IT channel access to discounts usually reserved for traditional retail and AV partners was a major conundrum for digital home vendors.

Alloys was investing heavily into multimedia, Guttman said, and planned to launch several new products in the next couple of months that would combine audio-visual, computing, home automation and networking surveillance elements.

"We see all of this converging in the next 6-12 months," he said. "The IT channel will be a larger player than it has been."

Mutimer said Tecksel was now looking for other digital camera suppliers. But several traditional camera manufacturers - including Fujifilm and Kodak - had also elected not to give the IT channel the same discounts offered to consumer stores in order to avoid conflict between the two sales routes.

"Digital cameras are one of those things where they are not as strong as they could be in the IT channel because vendors choose to support the mass merchants and camera stores," he said. "You would think they could allow them through both channels."

But Hassall said he could understand why vendors employed this strategy when digital camera sales were dominated by retail stores and mass merchants.

"It makes no sense for a vendor to offer aggressive rebates to IT people if that puts them in a position where they undermine a large part of their market," he said.


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