Laurie Carmichael, the man who founded Digiland before selling out in 2000, has re-emerged in the IT distribution channel at the helm of a local subsidiary for a Singaporean hardware company.
Carmichael has spent the last three years as a consultant helping south-east Asian companies launch into the Australian market. He is now back in business as a stakeholder in the Australian operations of PC/home entertainment convergence vendor Neuston Corp.
"Newston manufactures a range of products that converge the functions of home entertainment, broadband Internet access and the PC," Carmichael said. "There are several products that are basically set-top boxes that download and store video and other content providing video-on-demand into the lounge room.
"In Australia, we will be initially selling these systems through traditional PC and mass merchant retailers but in the future the business model will also extend to forming alliances with broadband service providers."
Carmichael said that essentially the Windows XP-based hardware downloads videos in Mpeg 4 and other formats, stores them on a hard drive and plays them back through any TV with "no compromise of quality".
The Neuston Corp technology allows the downloaded data to be seen in real time or burnt to standard CD media and replayed at a later time.
"This type of downloading is well known to a large number of enthusiasts in the 13-30 age bracket," Carmichael said. "The big difference is that up until now, they watch the content on a computer screen. Neuston brings it to the lounge room."
Carmichael said he was confident there was a strong market for this sort of converged technology in Australia and claimed that Neuston had the jump on similar hardware suppliers in this space.
"These are the first of these types of products to arrive in Australia," he said. "A lot of retailers have been moving in this direction and they are looking for products that cater to the convergence of computers and home entertainment.
"It won't happen overnight, but the market is potentially huge and the margin for retailers is substantially more than traditional PC and home entertainment products."
Carmichael founded Digiland in 1994 building the company substantially before selling to the Singapore-based GES corporation in 2000.