All this talk about when Ingram will or won't make a strong push into Australia. If it wasn't so important it'd be very boring. After all, how long has ARN been running stories about what Ingram thinks of the local channel, or what Ingram is doing in Europe, or about the waning fortunes of Merisel around the world.
But the truth is, what happens at the distribution level of the channel is vitally important to everyone. Even the so-called time and place distributor Tech Pacific offers a lot more support and value than some people give it credit for. And support is the name of the game at the moment, with buyers expecting informed advice about not only the systems they buy, but the way they implement their IT plans.
I've talked to a number of the mid-level, value-added distributors lately, and I'm very impressed with the way they're grooming their product offerings. By that I mean they aren't simply trying to add every possible brand name to their catalogues, but instead they're looking for symbiotic mixes of brands and product ranges. Of course, that doesn't mean only stocking one brand of a product type, and we can see some healthy internal competition when a distributor has a few PC and/or server ranges.
If you listen carefully there's a steady background buzz in the channel, and it's vendors and distributors constantly courting or being courted. Even when vendors buy each other, it isn't necessarily bad for the channel, especially when the resulting company takes the best of its merged product lines and builds a better range of products. The people at Digital tell us we shouldn't be worried about what Compaq will do to them . . . and they're probably right.
We had fun last week at ARN when the Ingram rumours started hitting us. It was almost as if there was someone out there lobbing the rumours at us. Basically the story said Ingram was coming into the Australian market in late May, in a big way, with HP products. Everyone, including HP and Ingram, denied the story. Or at least, they qualified what they were saying by adding something like: "That's not to say we haven't been talking, but nothing's happening yet."
Rest assured, when something is ready to happen, ARN will tell you the story.