Socket Communications Inc., which bills itself as a provider of mobile productivity products, is getting a boost from the channel.
The company in October launched its Strategic Vertical Integrator Program with a dozen or so partners. At press time, Socket had 63 integrator allies.
It’s not stopping there. Peter Phillips, Socket’s vice president of marketing, aims to reach the 150-to-180-partner mark by the middle of 2006.
Of that total, he expects perhaps 50 to 60 companies will generate significant revenue. Socket’s initial goal is to have integrators bring in $3 million in revenue each quarter.
That would represent a sizeable chunk of the company’s business. The company had revenue of $6.5 million for its third quarter ending September 30.
Socket develops data collection and network connectivity products for mobile devices, including personal digital assistants, smart phones and tablet PCs.
The company for much of its history—it was launched in 1992—has worked with OEMs. Phillips said Socket enjoyed some early success with Apple’s Newton PDA and has since developed relationships with Dell, Fujitsu, Palm and Toshiba, among others.
But over time, the company decided it needed to cultivate ties with integrators as well. Integrators have gravitated toward mobile applications and proven themselves effective in the data collection field, Phillips said.
In that space, Socket offers bar code scanning and radio frequency identification products that expand the functionality of handheld devices.
Socket has been working informally with integrators for about four years, and that experience led to the establishment of a formal program, Phillips said.
While the company’s business with PDA manufacturers was going well, it did put Socket “on the growth path we wanted,” Phillips said. “We had some early success with integrators in the marketplace and thought this was a good channel for us to grow and expand.”
Hence, the company’s focus of late on integrators. The company’s Strategic Vertical Integrators, or SVIs, purchase Socket’s hardware through the distributors, including Tech Data Corp., Ingram Micro Inc.’s Nimax division and D&H Distributing Co.
The SVIs incorporate Socket’s data collection as they roll out mobile solutions. The integrators typically develop software geared toward specific verticals such as field force automation, healthcare, retail merchandising, transportation/automotive, event/tradeshow management and distribution.
An October report from Gateway Research noted that “many of Socket’s SVIs have completed their development and are now deploying their solutions to customers.”
In one such example, Tiva Software LLC earlier this year teamed with Socket to create a retail solution for First Stop Convenience Stores. The implementation involved Tiva’s pricebook application and Hewlett-Packard Co.’s iPAQ handhelds integrated with Socket’s barcode scanners.
Tiva develops automated ordering, pricebook, and other offerings for the wholesale, retail and distribution sectors.
“We rely on the integrator’s knowledge in that vertical space,” Phillips said.
Integrators, in turn, can tap Socket’s channel program to receive sales support, Webinar-based training, marketing development funds and volume discounts.
Indeed, Socket and its integrator allies have something to gain from their partnership. Both parties may find profit at the intersection of vertical market needs and mobile solutions.