Editorial: Handholding exercise

Editorial: Handholding exercise

It has been another very busy week in the channel. Powerlan completed its about-face towards a focus on owning intellectual property, Telstra made a significant play for the wireless LAN market and Microsoft again demonstrated its total lack of tolerance for breaches of its licence compliancy guidelines.

Add to that a restructure at Dimension Data's integration division, which increased the industry's unemployed numbers, and you are still only up to date on a fraction of what is happening at the moment.

ARN has been leading the way with some stories lately and it is always satisfying when we break news of things that are happening in the industry that is then picked up by the mainstream press. This was certainly the case when we revealed last week what was happening in Powerlan's divestment plans. Announcements to the ASX this week proved we were right on the money.

Meanwhile, vendors, distributors and resellers operating in the wireless space will be wondering whether Telstra's move on SkyNetGlobal is a positive or a negative development.

Having Australia's largest telco showing some interest in what is being talked up as a huge channel opportunity could see a massive improvement in the number of public wireless contact points. The sheer enormity of Telstra's customer base could also be leveraged, which would result in an enormous increase in the number of organisations incorporating wireless technology into their communications infrastructure.

Unfortunately, the flip side is that if we are all relying on Telstra to give the market a shake-along, we could end up with the same problems as we currently have with broadband. Hopefully this wouldn't mean services that are too expensive and infrastructure that ignores regional diversity.

There is plenty to be positive about in the technology supply chain at the moment as companies continue to invest in the future of the industry. Acer is betting on the future of the Tablet PC and the continued growth of the handheld market with its announcement last week that it will be launching products in these two categories. Acer will apply the traditional Taiwanese value proposition of bringing down costs through volume manufacturing to this burgeoning technology category.

This represents a great opportunity for the growing brand's vast channel to expand the scope of customers that will be able to utilise PDA technology. High hardware prices are proving to be a barrier to entry at the moment for many consumers, but the entry of Acer can only expedite the circumnavigation of such an obstacle.

It is only once the prices of hardware come down that the real opportunity for the channel from PDA and Tablet PC technology will emerge. It is then that broad use of the hardware can be introduced as an enterprise solution, which opens the door for the value-adders that cater specifically to individual businesses or industry verticals.

As with any technology, once true business benefits can be introduced to the small and medium business markets, the channel will be able to build strong revenue streams and achieve economies of scale. Lowering the cost of hardware is a precursor to such growth.

When you combine the potential of wireless and PDA technologies, you are probably looking at the two most significant drivers of future growth and profitability in the channel. Throw some broadband into the equation and things are certainly starting to indicate that much brighter times are just around the corner.

Resellers and distributors now need to position themselves correctly to bask in the sunshine when it emerges from the clouds.

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