Bundled laptop and telco plans are an inevitable, but resellers with a services string to their bow won’t be hard hit, several industry representatives claim.
The comments come in response to the launch of new laptop and telco data plans for business users from Acer and Telstra. The arrangement will see three notebook models from Acer with embedded 3G cards sold exclusively through Telstra’s dealer channel from February 9.
Axxis Technology director, Mathew Dickerson, saw notebook and telco services bundles as inevitable and another nail in the coffin for resellers solely focused on selling IT product.
“If resellers bury their head in the sand, then they will always struggle. The main message for these guys still buying product and just putting a mark-up on that product, is that that business is slowing down,” Dickerson said. “You have to work out ways to create a services model around what the hardware and telco providers do.”
Dickerson compared the threat of broadband services and notebook bundles to hosted and cloud-based applications. In both cases, he advised resellers to embrace trailing commission opportunities and focus on providing complementary advice and services to their customers.
Nexus IT director, Sean Murphy, was unperturbed by news of business notebooks going through the telco channel and claimed any SMB IT reseller with strong customer relationships and a value proposition would be unaffected.
“It’s up to Acer and Telstra to make sure their story is very good and the support is there, otherwise people will stop buying from them,” he added. “Our customers want value-added services. And as a small business myself, this wouldn’t be attractive to me because of the cost of services.”
Managing director of SA-based regional reseller Lincoln Computer Services, Greg Williams, claimed most of its customers preferred mobile broadband connectivity through USB sticks, rather than embedded options. But he also agreed the shift to acquiring a bundled offering was inevitable as more and more customers embraced per-month contracts.
“It certainly could be seen as a threat [the Telstra/Acer bundles] but I don’t think it’s significant for us at this stage,” he said. “I actually think the main competitors for this are the iPhone and BlackBerry devices.”