The channel is in the best position to take advantage of an upturn in the IT market, according to Philip Cronin, Intel area sales manager for distribution.
"The channel represented around 40 per cent of PC shipments in Australia last year and has held that share," he told ARN. "It's fantastic and it is because the channel is a technological leader rather than a follower. In a period when enterprise refresh cycles were quiet and consumer PC buying was soft, the only area to hold ground was the small and medium business market and that is where local PC builders and the channel have always been strong."
Combined with shifting purchasing attitudes in the government sector, Cronin believes the outlook for the market looks far more healthy.
"This time next year we'll be talking about a booming IT economy with a huge upsurge both in the corporate and government areas. The channel will be there to take advantage of that."
Intel is in the midst of taking its Channel Conference around Australia. The biannual roadshow covers all major cities and attracts more than 1,500 system builders from around the country. It gives the chipmaker the opportunity to update its channel on products and on the company direction for the next 12 months. It also includes a hands-on training segment.
"We have a lot of new technology, products and ways of doing things and the PC channel is responding," Cronin said.
Retail is seen as an upcoming opportunity for PC builders. Cronin believes the market will help the channel maintain its position against multinational vendors.
"System builders see it as a big opportunity, even up to the level of Harvey Norman, whereas two or three years ago they wouldn't have even considered it," Cronin said.
"The challenge this year is that, while they were successful last year, they now have to defend that 40 per cent. Let's not let it go - the multinationals will want that share."
The roadshow also gives resellers the opportunity to ask questions such as why there have been so many product changes at Intel.
"We do it because we are a technology leader, but also because we spend a lot of time asking what customers need. We tend not to build [products] for the sake of it. While it is a challenge for the channel, we do continue to improve the technology and that in turn stimulates the market."
The conference also covers the server market, with showcases by Intel's premier partners.