Editorial: Room for manoeuvre

Editorial: Room for manoeuvre

If the news in the last issue of ARN was dominated by consolidation in the distribution ranks, this week sees a couple of players focusing their attentions on exploiting opportunities within the digital home.

First out of the box (or into the box to be accurate in this case) is Alloys International. Best known as a distributor of imaging and security products, the company has combined its core strengths to design a central control unit, which is capable of managing a variety of home entertainment and automation products regardless of manufacturer.

A look at the current Alloys vendor list - which includes companies like Axis, BenQ, Canon, Panasonic and Sony - suggests its focus on smart homes is a smart move. Vendors like nothing more than a business partner showing the willingness and ability to drive demand for their products and this looks like an excellent example.

Dubbed MediaHub, the unit is clearly an attempt to gain a good early position as the consumer IT industry heads towards smart home functionality. If all goes to plan, Alloys will have established a channel of resellers and integrators trained up and ready to sell these systems before some of its competitors have even identified possible opportunities.

Alloys product manager, Phil Gibbs, said the company would like to get MediaHub into the market within six months. It will be interesting to see how enthusiastically its resellers and integrators embrace the concept and, a little further down the line, how well the product is received by potential end-users.

The other distributor that confirmed its digital home focus last week was Digiland Australia. Back in January, the reappointed founder of its local operations, Laurie Carmichael, said the company had abandoned previous broad-based ambitions in favour of a 'specialist' play.

Based on relationships with its Singaporean parent company, it has now unveiled four new vendors that have a distinctly digital feel - among their wares are multimedia networking devices, capture and storage devices for digital cameras, DVD players and digital music players.

It also has three new business vendors, again acquired through existing relationships with its parent company. While none of the new vendors are household names in Australia, the fact that they are almost all exclusive to Digiland does at least give it some point of differentiation in the market. But even if the new partners turn out to be the Magnificent Seven, Carmichael and his team know they have a long road to travel in order to rebuild the Digiland brand in this country.

The other point of note this week would be a geographical one with Altech cutting the ribbon at its new pad in Perth and fluttering its eyelashes at the New Zealand market. Establishing a market presence in WA allows a distributor to call itself a national operator, which is one way of beefing yourself up in a consolidating market.

As for its allusion to opening a New Zealand office, Altech is unlikely to be the last company to look across the Tasman for additional revenue streams. Although dominated by Ingram Micro, that market is essentially a microcosm of the Australian one and there is plenty of potential for established players here to offer themselves as smaller, reliable alternatives to the new powerhouse.

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