Ingram Micro sets up US white box business

Technology distributor, Ingram Micro, plans to set up a business unit to focus on delivering PC components to "white-box" system builders in the US.

Ingram Micro's new unit will help system builders quickly roll out PCs for the US market by offering cheap components, technical support and prompt delivery of supplies, the company said.

Components from Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, Seagate Technology, Hitachi, Maxtor and Western Digital, among others, will be available to Ingram Micro customers.

White boxes are PCs assembled by local resellers or distributors and sold without a major brand name, primarily to small businesses. Individually, the whitebox system vendors make and sell a small number of PCs, but collectively they represent the largest percentage of PCs sold each year, according to market data.

Market research company, IDC, pegged the percentage of white boxes sold in the US at 36.4 per cent of the total market, or 4.3 million units in the first quarter.

Gartner thought the amount of whiteboxes sold in the US was even higher in the first quarter, at 4.5 million units or 38 per cent of the total market. Worldwide, more than half of all PCs sold are white boxes, according to both companies.

While Ingram Micro has always worked with unbranded system vendors in the US, it has never had a dedicated unit for that business, senior group vice president of sales, marketing, and product management, Pat Collins, said. Previously, components for both unbranded systems and large brands were handled by the same purchasing and marketing departments, but the new business unit will have its own purchasing and sales departments dedicated exclusively to unbranded system vendors, he said.

The company operates similar business units in Europe and Asia for whitebox customers, and is starting to develop a white-box organisation in Canada, Collins said.

The new unit in the US will have little impact on Ingram Micro’s local operation. Managing director, Steve Rust, told ARN that Ingram Micro Australia was actually based on the white box market, as it entered the Australian market via the acquisition of leading components distributor Electronic Resources Australia.

“There will be no immediate impact on our operations as we already have relationships with all the major vendors,” he said. “Components make up about 40 per cent of our business. If anything, the new US unit might be learning some lessons from us.”