Huawei expands into Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq

huawei-liveHuawei is moving to make money in war torn countries.

The Chinese behemoth has appointed  regional value added IT distie Optimus to distribute its enterprise product range for networking, unified communications and security.

Under the deal Optimus will aim to grow Huawei’s channel network across Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq where it will also undertake regular marketing and channel development activities to help increase the vendor’s market share and reach in the region.

Meera Kaul, managing director of Optimus Technology and Telecommunications said the partnership was “very important” and would help it offer customers a “omplete range of technology.”

She added that the company also planned to take Huawei’s enterprise products including  cloud computing, enterprise networking and wireless, as well as Unified Communication & Collaboration (UC&C), video conference and telepresence products, and partner them with
other vendors.

Optimus also claims it will promote this product range through focused channel development activities, which include training, certifications, skills development and consultancy services to help them sell the productsbetter.

“Over the last few years, our Enterprise Business division has been investing heavily in developing our Middle East customer base,” said Dong Wu, vice president, Huawei, Enterprise Business, Middle East.

He added Huawei would continue to invest in training, motivating and incentivising partners.

E-commerce generates demand for mega-warehouses

warehouse-openOnline shoppers are not just killing main street, they seem to be taking creating a lot of demand for oversized commercial storage units suitable for logistics and delivery outfits. In other words, small warehouses are going out of style, fast.

Property Magazine International reports that 25 million square meters of retail space will be needed over the next five years to keep up with e-commerce trends. That is the equivalent of 3,300 football pitches and some developers might end up driving white Bentleys, just like Premiership footballers.

It is estimated that online outfits will also need an additional three million square meters of specially equipped e-fulfilment space over the next five years. Another 22 million square meters is needed to keep retail stores and satellite warehouses stocked.

The growth of e-commerce will also drive further development of so-called dark stores, which is basically a fancy name for huge warehouses where goods are packed and shipped to consumers.
Jones Lang LaSalle executive Paul Betts argued that many retailers have simply outgrown their supply chain infrastructure and they have to work out new logistics models for multi-channel retail.

EMEA CIOs expect higher IT spending in 2013

server-racksWe might be a bit closer to bottoming out. According to a study commissioned by Riverbed Technology, 71 per cent of CIOs in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region expect IT spending will go up this year, reports IT Web.

A total of 400 CIOs across the region took part in the study and answered a few questions about their spending priorities over the next 12 months. They were asked to pick their top five priorities and virtualisation and consolidation programs ranked first. About 50 per cent believe server virtualisation will be their primary spending priority. Data consolidation ranks second at 40 per cent, followed by storage consolidation, desktop virtualisation, server upgrades security and compliance, and WAN optimisation, all in the 32 to 34 per cent range.

Oddly enough, the study found that 10 per cent of CIOs plan to make rather aggressive investments in an effort to boost competitiveness. However, 28 per cent claim their focus will be on efficiency and overall cuts in spending over the next 12 months.

It is hardly surprising that 33 per cent of CIOs plan to approach investment cautiously in 2013, but most plan to keep spending at current levels. Only 9 per cent said their IT budgets were shrinking and that they would spend less than last year.

Although most outfits see potential to cut costs through data centre and server consolidation, there’s apparently a lot of room for improvement in WAN performance. As many as 38 per cent of the CIOs said application performance over WAN is a barrier to consolidation.

Tesco chucks cash at digital services

tescoTesco is continuing in its quest to become the all singing all dancing supermarket giant.

The company has now said it will be launching a new UK digital music and book service, while, like many companies, is moving to improve its presence in China, launching its Clubcard into the country.

Head honcho Philip Clarke said that the supermarket would be throwing $750 million at the technology market  this year, a mark up three times more than in 2010, in a bid to go head to head with the likes of Amazon and Play.com.

He said the company would be embracing digital retailing, eventually offering apps to help customers shop easier as well as confirming that it would launch blinkboxmusic and blinkboxbooks over the coming months.

It’s taking the moves seriously – hiring one of Facebook’s most senior European executives, Gavin Sathianathan, to lead the operation.

Mark Bennett, a former EMI and Warner Music executive, has been tasked with heading up blinkboxmusic.

This is one of many paths the company has been taking in its quest to become supermarket king.

Earlier this month it was reportedly in talks to buy family food chain Giraffe as well as entering into the price match war with its rivals.

Fortinet to purchase Coyote Point Systems

fortinet-logoFortinet has agreed to purchase Coyote Point Systems.

The network security company has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire the privately-held provider of enterprise-class application delivery (ADC), load balancing and acceleration services, which it claims will complement its offerings.

Fortinet also claims that the merger will help it and its channel partners to accelerate and further deliver on services to their clients.

Under the agreement no immediate changes will be made to Coyote Point products, customer support and channel programs or any existing ADC products that Fortinet markets, the company said.

However, as new products become available things could change.

According to industry forecasts, the annual end-user spending for Application Delivery Controllers will exceed $2 billion for 2013.

John Grady, research manager at IDC said as more enterprises turned to the cloud, data centres would require higher performance products coupled with strong security.

He said that, as a result, security and application delivery “must work hand-in-hand” to ensure quality of service while still preventing attacks.

“This acquisition places Fortinet in a unique position to deliver on both aspects in one [service].” he added.

 

 

 

Acer to slowly revamp product line, focus on tablets

acer-logo-ceAcer is apparently planning to revamp its product line in an effort to revive sales and growth momentum.

Last week Acer announced that it will increase R&D spending to between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of annual sales this year. Acer apparently wants to invest more in order to stay competitive in the tablet market, while at the same time improving its notebook line. Acer hopes to sell between 5 and 10 million tablets this year.

Analysts, however, see trouble ahead. Deutsche Bank analyst Ivy Lee said Acer might encounter new challenges that might cause its sales to remain flat, reports Taipei Times. Windows 8 is apparently the biggest risk, since there is still not enough consumer feedback on Windows 8 tablets and notebooks.

Acer recently killed off a couple of its value brands, after it experienced a huge inventory loss in late 2011. Like other leading PC makers, Acer is experiencing a lot of margin erosion and falling market share.

Citigroup Global Markets analyst Kevin Chang believes Acer will continue to struggle in the near future. In a recent note he argued that Acer’s current strategy is simply not working and that it has to be more aggressive on pricing.

As the PC slump drags on, Lenovo, Asustek, Dell and HP will try to hold their ground and fierce price competition is to be expected. As for tablets, Asus and Lenovo have done a bit better than other major PC players. Lenovo did particularly well in China in the last two quarters, while Asus has managed to make quite a name for itself in the Android tablet space with the Transformer series. It also builds Google’s Nexus 7 tablet.

TNT delivers job cuts to 4,000 staff

tntTNT Express has said it will be driving away around 4000 staff within the next three years as it struggles to get back on its feet.

In a strategic memo released today, the Dutch delivery group, which was the target of a failed $7 billion takeover by United Parcel Service, has said the cuts, which will affect around six percent of its workforce, will save it around $287 million (€220 million) by 2015.

The company added that it would also be restructuring the business, which it hoped would knock another $195 million  (€150 million) by 2015.

The plans fall under the company’s “Deliver” strategy, which aims to help it turn its business around and rake in profits by 2015. Currently the company is failing on the money front, as a result of “challenging trading conditions and continuing price pressure”.

As well as the cuts and restructuring, the company has also said it will focus around reshaping the TNT  portfolio through the sale of China and Brazil Domestic and reducing exposure to fixed intercontinental air capacity. It will also look at focusing on TNT Express’ distinctive service proposition and increasing growth in its most profitable segments and invest in infrastructure and in business supporting and customer IT.

Commenting on the Deliver programme, Bernard Bot, interim CEO said the business faced difficult market conditions and strategic challenges. However he pointed out it had a “unique competitive proposition” – an unrivalled European network, worldwide connections, an integrated range of services and recognised dedication to customers.

However, he warned the strategy had to be executed correctly to ensure results.

M-commerce to double in next 12 months

google-walletMobile shopping is the new black and a recent survey carried out by Conlumino indicates that it will continue to grow at an impressive rate for the foreseeable future. M-commerce has already risen 55 percent compared to a year ago and it is now estimated that it will grow another 115 percent over the next 12 months. 

Apple tops US PC satisfaction list

dellsigA survey of 10,000 US consumers has pointed to Apple and HP taking the top end of the satisfaction ratings for the computing segment in a Temkin Experience study. At the bottom of the rankings were Sony and Lenovo.

The survey looked at three areas of customer satisfaction, that is, functionality, accessibility, and the emotional reaction to the use of their product across different industries, including with computing.

Acer, Apple, Compaq, Dell, eMachines, Gateway, HP, Lenovo, Sony, and Toshiba were included. According to the survey, personal computers have been making steady gains in customer satisfaction – the average experience rating has increased to 60 percent for this year, up six percent from 54 percent in 2011.

Apple’s enormous popularity in the States put it on top for computing, reaching 134th place of any brand across every industry at 64 percent customer satisfaction. That is slightly below its 2012 rating at one percent less, however, it pipped other computer makers to the spot with top feedback for the accessibility and emotional categories. HP was second, beating Apple in functionality, and scoring 62 percent overall.

Of the PC brands, Dell scored the biggest improvement from 2012 with an increase in six percentage points. Sony and Lenovo however were the lowest ranked PC brands, both scoring 54 percent – not dismal, but showing significant declines for the segment. Sony scored poorly on functionality and accessibility, while Lenovo users were just not that attached to their machines with a low rating for the emotional category. Overall, ratings for PCs were 13th out of the 19 included industries.

The full ratings can be found at Temkin’s website, here.

 

Shoppers shun brand snobbery for cheap prices

light blueShoppers are shunning “premium shops” as the place to buy premium brands, and instead are happy to buy them at the cheapest possible price, research has revealed.

In the latest survey of 1,000 consumers, ShopperCentric said just over three quarters cited ‘product quality’ as the key defining feature of a premium brand.

A measly 16 percent said that they felt that upmarket stores were the place to go to buy these brands, with half of those questioned saying that it was the pricing that attracted them into stores.

Snobbery around premium brands was also shunned, with six in ten shoppers claiming that they hated the status these products held, and just 28 percent stated that they wanted to feel ’special’ when they bought these.

In fact, it seems lower prices and promotions are the way to a consumer’s pocket, with 74 percent of shoppers claiming that they loved finding a premium brand with a price discount and 61 percent said they only bought premium brands when they were on offer.

Manufacturers could face a lose/lose situation. 59 percent of shoppers admitted that if they saw a premium brand on reduced price, it would make them question whether the full price was too high.

Despite that, 37 percent of shoppers agreed that the types of brands who don’t discount, don’t care about their shoppers.

Danielle Pinnington, Managing Director of ShopperCentric said that the findings showed that  that price alone clearly did not “denote superior quality for shoppers any more”.

Instead, “great (and proven) quality appeared to lie at the heart of an unequivocal premium brand definition.”

She pointed out there was a role for expressing this through price, packaging, image or even channel and in store.

“For many shoppers it appears, it isn’t about where you sell a premium brand, but how you sell it,” she added.

Consumer environment to remain subdued says Next chief

highstreetNext’s chief exec has warned that the consumer environment will “remain subdued”.

Lord Wolfson’s comments come as the retail giant, which has 541 stores nationwide, posted its financial figures for  the second quarter of 2013 where it announced a nine percent rise in profits.

Figures jumped to £621.6 million and revenues from its online business increased by 9.5 percent to £1.2 billion.

However, despite hoping to increase profits to £665 million this year, Lord Wolfson said the economy was still difficult and it would take time for the nation to work its way back to “affording the lifestyle it was already enjoying before the financial crisis”.

The Chief’s comments contrast to a recent report by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), which found that retail takings grew by 1.8 percent in February after a slow start to 2013, which was blamed on the bad weather.

Department stores  saw a 10.6 percent sales increase in February – the biggest monthly rise since last April driven by computer equipment and jewellery.

However, Next has yet to see the benefits with Wolfson claiming the company’s earnings were running below the rate of inflation. He said this decline in real earnings looked set to continue for at least one, if not several more years.

“Indeed the outlook for 2013 inflation has worsened since this time last year,” he said.
He also admitted that the company’s present sales were at the bottom of its target range, although it hoped for improvement once it gained a better understanding of the underlying consumer environment once temperatures returned to seasonal levels.

However, his tame words in the financial statement were in contrast to his comments in The Guardian, where he laid into “incompetent” local councils for the state of the high street.

He said some high streets had been neglected for 20 to 30 years as a result of councils  resistant to change, meaning there were many towns and cities where the stock of shops was inadequate.

Tablets a boon for shops

stylustabletWhile the humble desktop PC emits a death rattle across Europe, consumers are flocking to tablets – devices which tend to be much more comfortable to keep on your lap when channel surfing.

According to analyst house Context, tablet sales have increased an enormous 350 percent in a single year, proving a boon to retailers who had the foresight to invest in the devices. Global MD of retail research at Context, Adam Simon, pointed out that there is a shift away from online-only retail channels, giving bricks and mortar stores the opportunity to capitalise while the consumer embarks on its cheap-and-cheerful tablet frenzy. Amazon is an example, which now stocks the Kindle in regular stores.

Click and collect is an emerging trend which is also helping the traditional retailers. Rather than waiting for the postman to stealthily drop in a “Sorry you weren’t at home” card in the nanosecond he or she was at the door, customers order online and pick up their product from a designated site. This is a pretty neat option because you don’t need to take a week off work to make sure you catch your delivery. Argos has enjoyed success with this model.

Of course, Apple is still very popular, but Context pointed out that top tablets in Western Europe also included the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, the Galaxy Tab2 10, and the Nexus 7. Samsung’s laughing.

Context tablet analyst Salman Chaudhry said in a statement that Apple’s show and play concept “was a real leader and taught consumers to enjoy experiential purchases while also creating links between their own stores and other retail outlets”.

“Various tablet vendors are now following these footsteps by making more devices available in stores for people to trial before they buy, with even Google getting in on the act with their stands in PC World,” Chaudhry said.

 

Avnet and Microsoft shine a business light on China

surface-rtCompanies are looking further into China in a bid to boost business.

This week both Avnet and Microsoft have made railroads into the country. The gossip grapevine suggests that Microsoft has decided to extend its selling channels for its Surface RT tablets, which it previously sold through two distributors- its online store and chain store for electronics, Suning.

The giant had not been able to go through further channels as a result of an exclusive distie deal with Suning, but now sources have said that this deal expired in February, paving the way for Microsoft to pick up new channels. It is also claimed that Microsoft was unhappy about the way Suning had dealt with sales, failing to push Surface and get an advertising network around it.

In a bid to boost sales its now, according to the WPDang, turning to four new distribution partners aboard. These include PC Mall, Sundan, One Zero and 360buy.

And its not just Microsoft moving into Chinese circles. Today distie Avnet announced that it was buying Hong Kong’s RTI Holdings, RTI Technology China, Eastele Technology China, and DSP Solutions, value-added distributors of telecom equipment and related components in Hong Kong and China.

The company said that it wanted a piece of RTI as a result of its “focused technical expertise,” as well as its “strong presence” in the Chinese market.

It is hoped that the purchase will help the company break into the Chinese market, which it has so far struggled to do.

Resellers cautiously welcome the budget

gosborneResellers have cautiously welcomed some parts of the Budget, saying elements could help smaller businesses and the IT industry.

However, they have warned that by giving benefits and breaks to SMEs and start ups larger companies may find room for complaint.

The comments come as Chancellor George Osborne set out plans to drive the economy by offering SMEs reductions in National Insurance.

The latter was described as a “tax off jobs,” offering every company in the UK the option to take the first £2,000 pounds off their National Insurance bill.

Additionally, he said the Coalition will provide funding for any external advice companies needed.

According to Osborne, roughly 450,000 small businesses  could end up paying no jobs tax at all under the new outlines. He said that for those starting their own businesses and looking to employ staff, “a huge barrier would be removed” when the legislation passes next April.

Responding to the budget, a source at a large reseller told ChannelEye the £2,000 credit against employer’s NI contributions is “a great initiative” and “could also help start-ups too”.

“Not so good for bigger firms who may in the long run face competition from the up and coming businesses with smaller overheads offering cheaper IT services,” the source said.

Another added: “I suppose it’s good that the budget is proposing a cut in corporation tax and boosts for SMEs, however, whether that will pay off remains to be seen.”

Both resellers queried plans to hold off infrastructure plans until 2015, which the Chancellor hinted at when he claimed that, although the government planned to support the economy with the infrastructure it needs, he would only look at throwing £3 billion a year at broadband and mobile telephony investments from 2015 to 2016.

“The reduction in the growth outlook means there will be no new money for infrastructure until 2015/16,” this large reseller told us. “This means we are left in limbo as an economy. This will have a knock on effect on the IT sector, which thrives through new initiatives and businesses.”

The other added: “The Budget is more focused on helping smaller businesses, so surely delaying this could have a knock on effect on the economy”.

High street slump has no effect on video game disties

pac-manHMV and Blockbuster are gone, along with countless independent shops, but their demise doesn’t appear to be hurting video game distributors. In fact, the leading UK distributors told MCV that the closures did not have much of an impact at all.

Mastertronic said the bankruptcies are a non-issue, as most stock is now on a consignment basis. “However, where we have expensive console stock in the retail channel and no practical means of retrieving it quickly, it still poses a problem. The ongoing transition to a digital business has minimised the effects of these closures,” said Mastertronic operations director Dermot Stapleton.

Vogue Distribution sales manager Tom Popple said the poor performance of the retail sector has made had a knock-on effect on game sales, but Vogue is weathering the storm by expanding into new markets. Clock Entertainment exec Jake Wright said it is sad to see big names disappear from the UK high street, but he pointed out that the closures did not have much effect on his outfit.

A number of execs from Bright Red Distribution, Gem and Link Distribution concur. While none of them welcome the demise of high street chains, they don’t appear too concerned, either. Besides, the long-term trend in the gaming industry is online distribution, with constant updates and plenty of downloadable content to keep gamers hooked.

The demise of brick and mortar shops is already boosting online sales, although sales of PC games are not doing very well. High street’s woes did not take a financial toll on games distributors, but they did hurt company confidence and there are not that many positive signs to report. PC sales are down, console lovers are waiting for next-gen gear and casual gaming on mobile devices is bigger than ever.