Intel flags channel overhaul

Intel flags channel overhaul

Intel is planning a major revamp of its channel operations in the New Year to coincide with the launch of two new platforms.

While it is keeping details close to its chest, all is expected to be revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show, which is held in Las Vegas during January.

The world's largest chipmaker is due to make its Napa mobile and Viiv home platforms available in the first quarter of 2006.

"There will be an awful lot of activity focused on the channel next year," Intel channel manager, Andrew McLean, said.

"We can always count on our resellers to be extremely vocal and we have listened to everything they have put forward."

One key objective for Intel was to raise the profile of leading system builders like ASI Solutions, Ipex and Omega, McLean said. The vendor took a handful of its leading whitebox partners to a Napa Summit in Korea last week in order to train them on the new mobile platform and help them build relationships with leading original development manufacturers (ODMs).

While local system builders had a history of getting desktop products to market swiftly, McLean said Intel would like to see them improving their speed in the mobile market.

"Mobile is a slightly different business model because you can't be sure a hard drive will fit in a chassis like it would in a desktop," he said. "As a system builder, you need to be closely aligned with these ODMs."

Intel was also working to get resellers ready for the imminent launch of its new home entertainment platform, Viiv. In order for systems to sport the Viiv badge, McLean said builders would have to go through a verification process to show that the computers had the right chipset and CPU, networking capability, Microsoft's MCE operating system and additional Intel software.

But like Microsoft executives prior to its MCE launch, he was keen to dampen market hype.

"We need to set realistic expectations because there won't be mass adoption overnight," McLean said. "But we have seen convergence of IT and CE products already and would now expect to see convergence of those channels - partners can choose to skill up in each other's business or look to team up.

"The IT guys have been putting networks into business environments for years and many are now getting into VoIP. These are not purely business technologies - they can be taken successfully into the home market."

As proof of channel convergence starting to take hold, he pointed to a number of IT distributors that had started carrying consumer electronics products. Having recently returned from a regional powwow, McLean also advised local builders to switch production over to its 945 chipset.

"That's the product to be selling from here on in, especially in major tenders," he said. "Those are the chipsets that are being made - our factories are full."

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