Local system builders have expressed broad approval of Intel's plans to introduce industry-wide common building blocks (CBBs) for notebooks. But questions remain about whether the standards push will improve their position against the multinationals.
Altech managing director, Antony Sheen, was concerned about the channel's ability to differentiate. While lower component costs could help local builders compete against the multinationals on price, the lack of differentiation in CBB models could trigger a price war. At present, there were just two different models recognised as CBB compliant.
"If everyone is selling the same notebooks in Australia, they will try to bring the prices down to differentiate their products. We could end up selling notebooks with $5 profit," he said. "This is what I see unless more models are introduced.
"However, [CBB] may bring more vendors into the market and allow us to deal with smaller guys to make different looking products."
TodayTech executive director, Michael Chong, was also concerned about the effect standards would have on the dealer's general product portfolio. However, he acknowledged CCB was an innovative concept.
Ipex research and development manager, Mikhail Mizikov, applauded Intel's decision to oversee CBB. He compared the program to a similar server-based verification channel initiative launched by Intel in 1999.
"The server program was a great success. Intel created a number of SKUs to allow whitebox builders to compete against tier ones," he said. "It gave the channel the ability to fight the multinationals.
"Mobile CBB does the same thing by engaging the three largest notebook vendors and getting them under the Intel umbrella with technical support. It's exactly what should be done."
Mizikov was unperturbed by notebooks having a common base and theme, saying builders could differentiate by providing value-added services and support.
Managing director of WA-based CDM, Camillo Maddalena, said the limited one-year warranty available on parts could hinder the CBB initiative.
This would leave local providers having to cover the shortfall in support if they were providing longer notebook warranties, he said.