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The NASBA – The Association of Channel Resellers, an organization of 14,000 System Builders and VARs, announced a pact this week with the CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) to collaborate and build substantive links between the two communities.

The pact includes new membership levels at both groups and joint benefits that should enable NASBA VARs and CEA members to bring consumer electronics into the business space and value-added integration into the home market.

The venture is the latest recognition of the convergence that is happening between consumer electronics and business technology, said Bill Booth, NASBA’s director of strategic directions.

The connection between the two is the VARs using consumer products in the business space, Booth said, and the NASBA-CEA agreement expects to prod the joint’s reflexes to bring consumer products to the business world and bring the value-added integration to the home market.

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“There is no question, there is not a business today that doesn’t touch on consumer technology and it’s time we think in those terms,” Booth said.

“I went to the orthodontist with my son the other week and the amount of technology he had just in the front office just to keep folks entertained and educated was astounding.”

Booth continued: “There’s all types of biz applications for these things. Those might be the first places where the dollars are made for our guys here. They would support the IT needs of the business with consumer products, whether it’s in the front office or the presentation room, and later venture into the CEO’s home. How do you leverage that sell to the broader market?”

Some of the benefits that are shared by both associations include access to training programs, member pricing on conferences, market research and affinity programs.

Both organizations have committed to develop more and deeper programs as the partnership evolves.

Several vendors are already marching down this path, Booth said, notably Intel Corp., which is priming its channel partners to build a market for its Viiv media center computers.

Three-hundred NASBA VARs and SIs are already members of NASBA’s Digital Home program and about 50 or so have found success, Booth said.

CEA has about 400 A/V integrators in its TechHome Division that would similarly benefit, he said. But the push is going to come from VARs.

“The A/V side is a small world; there are only 1,500 or so,” he said. “There are some 70,000 IT resellers capable of this. It’s a different size army and they’re going to be the force here. What we have to do is prepare the larger army to sell in the smaller army’s world.”