Sheu: Aim whitebox high

Synnex has warned whitebox resellers and systems builders away from competing in the low-end of the PC market.

Managing director, Frank Sheu, blamed shrinking opportunities in the value market to the aggressive pricing of branded vendors like Acer and Dell.

The only way local whitebox operators could stay relevant, he said, was to target the performance end of the market.

"The ability of branded players to produce and market low-cost PCs means the entry-level market is no longer viable for whiteboxes," he said. "They have to aim for higher-end gaming PCs or [Microsoft's] Media Center."

PlusCorp director, Nigel Fernandes, agreed the entry-level market was a lost cause.

"Over the past 24 months, Dell in particular has been building entry-level systems and servers that most assemblers just can't compete with," he said.

In order to survive and remain competitive, PlusCorp had looked to niche markets to provide high-specification custom-built systems as well as dual- and quad-core servers, Fernandes said.

But for Murray Computer & Office Shop sales manager, Mel Bice, entry-level whiteboxes still allowed regional resellers to provide better warranty and service.

"First-time buyers are often lured by branded vendors but they tend to have return-to-capital-city warranty and service provisions," he said. "A couple of 200km round-trips to drop-off systems for servicing are often enough to have people questioning the value of their bargain branded purchase."

By contrast, Bice said local whitebox builders often had onsite component inventories and could offer same-day warranty services.

For Leader Systems director, Theo Kristoris, both ends of the market had room for whitebox players.

"At the bottom end, consumers are willing to pay extra for value-adds not offered by tier-ones," he said. "At the other end of the scale, the great advantage of whitebox is offering configurations tailored to consumer needs."

Altech national sales manager, Kevin Hartin, encouraged whitebox resellers to outsource the building of machines to concentrate on sales and servicing.

He claimed Altech could offer ready built machines for the same price as dealers could source the components.