There can be few finer places to ply your trade as an IT journo than the good old channel. While many people would undoubtedly refute this claim, the simple fact is that the reseller community regularly serves up more juicy bits than a four-litre carton of freshly squeezed oranges, and a journo in any field will tell you that this is the kind of stuff that makes it worth getting out of bed in the morning.
And what an exciting news week this has been in the channel. MYOB and Solution 6 announced a $230 million software merger that must rank as the biggest in Australian history, Panasonic confirmed it was conducting a local restructure that has already seen heads rolling, Computer Disposals ceased trading due to the cost of ongoing ‘David and Goliath’ legal battles with Dell, and Telstra made significant changes to its wholesale pricing in response to the competition notice issued by the ACCC. It’s been quite a while since we have had such a diverse and important selection of stories to offer you in the same issue.
Speaking as a journalist, I think many of the reporters and commentators covering the recent broadband price wars would have loved to see the fight continue — with ISPs taking their complaints to the courts, the ACCC turning the screws even further and Telstra standing its ground to the bitter end. We all love to bring you the gory details of a good stoush. But such fights are rarely played out in real life and, although the initial reactions of various ISPs we spoke to last week was mixed, Telstra’s wholesale broadband channel is definitely in brighter spirits than last week. If a level playing field has finally been restored in the local broadband market, everybody concerned can concentrate on driving accelerated uptake of high-speed Internet. God knows this country needs it given the laughably low conversion rate the industry has managed so far.
I must admit the MYOB and Solution 6 merger came as something of a shock, although history tells us it probably shouldn’t have because we have seen the same thing happen with much bigger companies in recent years. While it seems fair to assume that a deal of such size must have been kicked around both boardrooms for quite some time, the very disappointing half-yearly results that Solution 6 posted on the ASX at the end of February must have played a part in speeding up the process. The company recorded a loss before tax of $70.2 million for the six-month period ending December 2003 — $58 million worse than the same period in the previous year — due largely to a $60.9 million write-down of its intangible assets. The announcement saw its shares tumble seven per cent in a single day.
Representatives of the new entity, which announced it would eventually phase out the Solution 6 brand, have predicted minimal changes to the way it deals with its reseller channel. I know there must be many of you out there hoping this change amounts to some new products to add to your current lines. For the employees working for both companies before the merger — especially those who held administrative or management positions at Solution 6 — the coming weeks and months promise to be a bit twitchy. But the time for being nervous has been and gone for some Panasonic Australia staff. What are your thoughts?
Brian Corrigan is Editor of ARN. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org