Last week I had the pleasure of making a brief presentation at Melbourne's edition of the Intel Channel Conference. I was delighted to talk to some members of Melbourne's community of OEM assemblers, which reminded me of just how important they are in the grand scheme of Australian IT.
No group of people in the Australian channel has done more to generate wealth for local communities through employment and business enablement. No group of businesses in the technology industry has done more to bring the costs of computing down to a level that has made it affordable to the large majority of small businesses and households in the country.
I would go so far as to say that the white-box community has been the biggest influencing factor in creating the large installed base of technology that now resides in Australia.
Meanwhile, the huge array of components, accessories and peripherals purchased by local assemblers makes them some of the biggest spenders in the industry.
Data collected by channel research company Inform has repeatedly shown that more than half of Australia's dealers and resellers prefer to build their own white boxes or sell those made by larger OEM assemblers.
Aside from affordability, perhaps the main reason for this channel mind share is the huge flexibility of configurations that can be customised to the specific needs of individual customers. Add to that issues such as speed to market with new technologies as well as the ability to understand small and medium businesses and it is not hard to see why this industry sector is so important.
It seems to me that just about everybody in the industry understands the significance of the white-box channel, except for the assemblers themselves. If you were to combine all the revenues, employees and customers of the OEM channel into one collective, you would have an organisation with tens of thousands of employees, billions of dollars of turnover and more than 50 per cent market share.
Australia's white-box manufacturers and resellers should be extremely proud of the contribution they have made, not only to the IT industry, but society in general.
They should also be doing whatever they can to ride out the current industry flat spot to ensure they are ready to capitalise on demand when it inevitably returns.
I can't tell you exactly when that will be, but I will bet Melbourne to a brick that the white-box community is going to be at the forefront in delivering the next wave of technology which will pull this industry out of its current malaise.
Gerard Norsa, ARN's Melbourne based editor at large, can be contacted at (03) 9690 2933 or firstname.lastname@example.org.