The IT channel is not a pretty place when the gloves come off. While discussing the Hyundai PC issue among those involved in the furore, we had to listen to a lot of muck-raking. So how did so much bad blood come about?
On the surface, we have several distributors moving Hyundai computer product, all claim to have the necessary trademarks and contracts, and so they naturally infer that the other is a counterfeit or fake of some sort.
I get the impression that none of these distributors would have a problems with the other if they could — or even if Hyundai could — work out just who is who in the tangled web of companies manufacturing and distributing under the Hyundai brand.
With so many companies being spun off, acquired and merged, re-branded, or rising from the ashes of past failures, maintaining a consistent brand is becoming a difficult task. Hyundai is an example of a brand that has become synonymous with countless industries.
But with all the spinning off and management buy-outs and acquisitions that have characterised its recent history, the IT component of the Hyundai business is now a very puzzling puddle of company names.
From what I can fathom (and I would love to hear the precise details from anyone who knows them), the original Hyundai company that produced computer equipment was the Hyundai Electronics Industries Company. This company established an Information Equipment division and began producing computers in the mid-1980s. In 1998, part of this PC business was spun off – and this company named itself ‘Hyundai MultiCAV’.
Hyundai Electronics continued to produce PC monitors until August 2000 when its monitor business was also spun off under the name of ‘Hyundai ImageQuest’. This is the company for which Victorian-based components distributor Synnex has sole distribution rights in Australia.
These are the not the only Hyundai’s floating around. There is also Hyundai Motor Group, probably the most widely recognised of the Hyundai brands sold in Australia. There is also a major manufacturing company — that also produces some electronic and IT-related goods — called Hyundai Corporation. Little wonder that in April 2001, Hyundai Electronics decided to focus purely on the production of semiconductors and change its name to Hynix Semiconductor.
Sydney-based distributor Natcomp Technology claims to source it’s Hyundai PCs from a ‘Hyundai Corporation’ in Korea. Hyundai Corporation’s Web site and its catalogues suggests that it manufactures a broad range of electronic devices such as DVD/CD players, mobile phones, fax machines, even communications equipment like routers, switches and modems, but I failed to find any information on Hyundai Corporation manufacturing personal computers. Are we going in circles here?
What is clearer is that having so many offshoots of companies that keep using the same trading name creates one hell of a messy channel model. If the distributors themselves can hardly distinguish between the various Hyundai companies, it must be equally as difficult for the consumer.