Perhaps you’ve never considered a video game console or a plasma TV as the way to your customer’s heart, but apparently other resellers have.
Indeed, D&H Distributing Co. Inc. has found that a third of its consumer electronics business flows through IT resellers, according to Dan Schwab, vice president of marketing at the Harrisburg, Pa., company.
What’s driving this interest? Schwab said resellers use consumer electronics to complement an IT solution. In some cases, gadgets provide a “foot in the door.” A reseller, for example, might install an Xbox or a plasma TV in a doctor’s or dentist’s lobby on the way toward making a bigger IT sale.
Of course, one could question the therapeutic effects of playing “Halo” while waiting for dental surgery to commence. On the other hand, video gaming is an improvement over listening to reheated ’70s tunes while riffling through stacks of ancient magazines.
Another consumer electronics installation might find a computer, digital camera, wireless network and LCD TV deployed in a real estate office to display photos of houses, Schwab said.
Such deployments vary in sophistication. But overall, Schwab sees a convergence of consumer electronics, video games, security, home entertainment and home automation—all of which may be tied into a network.
This IT connection hasn’t been lost on vendors. Microsoft’s revamped Windows XP Media Center Edition provides one example. Schwab said the 2005 version marks the first time the operating system has been offered for the broad system builder channel. “Many resellers are very interested in this,” he said.
Hewlett-Packard Co. also is trying to cash in on the melding of IT and consumer electronics. In this space, HP’s product offerings include Media Center PCs, HP Digital Entertainment Center, Digital Home Theater projectors, Apple iPods, and HDTV-ready plasma and LCD TVs.
“A vendor such as HP jumping in with both feet with multiple technologies sends a major statement,” Schwab said. HP’s move, he added, “changes the landscape dramatically from a vendor perspective.”
D&H will carry products such as HP’s Digital Entertainment Center as part of an expanded distribution agreement announced earlier this month.
Schwab said resellers have just begun to take advantage of consumer electronics-oriented opportunities. Today’s novelty could emerge as a residential/small office niche.