Vodafone has added its weight to the digital convergence of communications and information technology by securing national distribution rights to Psion Computers' palmtop solutions. The deal sees Vodafone assuming responsibility for the sales, marketing, distribution and support of all Psion products sold locally with the new Series 5 palmtop com-puter, with a full keyboard being the flagship of the range.
In addition to Vodafone's direct sales force and network of 123 retail outlets, the distributor is actively looking for companies in the channel who are interested in reselling Psion products as a retail item or as a powerful component of an enterprise solution.
Specifically, Vodafone has already struck deals with Harvey Norman, other retailers and several leading VARs, such as E-World, Total Data Capture, Widget and Calculator King, who specialise in handheld products and solutions.
According to Stuart Palmer, Vodafone's Psion divisional manager, new generation palmtop computers offer the potential to be a convenient and cost-effective alternative to laptops for enterprises with large sales or service forces in the field.
"We were looking for more products to enhance our communications range and Psion is a good match as well as a logical progression from where we were," said Palmer.
Answering criticism that its incompatibility with the Windows CE operating system limits the functionality of Psion, Palmer said the product's popularity in Europe has spawned the development of over 3000 software titles for the operating system.
"There is no shortage of third-party products that are designed for the Psion platform and a big advantage over Windows CE-based solutions is that they are significantly more memory efficient," he added.
Like its competitors, the Psion Series 5's open 32-bit operating system, known as EPOC32, also allows for VARs and software developers to design their own applications for specific customers or general consumption.
But what is Vodafone going to do for dealers and resellers of Psion products in Australia? Plenty, according to Palmer.
Admitting Psion has previously suffered from poor local after-sales support and service, Palmer says Vodafone will remedy that by extending the phone repair services it already offers to cover all Psion products.
As a result, resellers will not have to deal with Psion products after a sale unless they want to, as Vodafone will invite customers to deal with them direct for warranty or service needs. "It takes all the pressure off the reseller," said Palmer.
Without giving away exact figures, Palmer also assured resellers that margins on the $1099 RRP product are better than those from competitor vendors of handhelds.