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editorial

Winning channel preference

I

n this edition of CRN we present the channel preferences for 11 component and consumer product categories. In the March 1, 2011 edition we had presented channel preference and satisfaction rankings across 14 commercial product categories. In the consumer category there has been a marked shift over the past couple of years in what channels want and expect from vendors. Most of the products in the consumer category have been commoditized, and there is little difference in terms of technology and design innovations across category offerings from various vendors. Along with commoditization, the convergence of digital technologies is compelling vendors to experiment with different go-to-market strategies that can provide wider and deeper market coverage. Just like vendors are trying out new routes to the market, the IT channel too is looking at different business models and vendor alignments. For most resellers, vendor loyalty is out of the window.

Volume 4, Issue 22

Managing Director : Sanjeev Khaira Printer & Publisher : Sajid Yusuf Desai Director : Kailash Shirodkar Executive Editor : Dhaval Valia Contributing Editor : Ramdas S Assistant Editor : Sonal Desai Principal Correspondent : Abhijeet Mukherjee (Mumbai) Design Art Director : Deepjyoti Bhowmik Designers : Yogesh Naik, Shailesh Vaidya, Jinal Cheda Marketing Senior Executive : Arshi Khan, Sejal Acharya Advertising Co-ordinator : Jagruti Kudalkar Operations Head—Finance : Yogesh Mudras Head—Operations & Administration : Satyendra Mehra Sales bangalore Regional Director : Anees Ahmed anees.ahmed@ubm.com (M) +91 98450 32170 Deputy Manager—Sales : Satish Kutty satish.krishnankutty@ubm.com (M) +91 98452 07810 Delhi Regional Director : Pankaj Jain pankaj.jain@ubm.com (M) +91 98101 72077

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The aspects which have taken center-stage are business profitability, clarity and transparency in relationships, and future growth potential of the product category. The IT channel no longer wants to associate itself with product categories that have no future—for example, optical disk drives, which have become passé in an age when flash memory is a more viable, portable and feasible option. (That’s one of the reasons we discontinued the category this year.) Increasingly, channels want vendors to ensure optimum distribution and maintain a uniform market operating price. They are no longer keen to align with companies that pressurize them to stock and sell more with the bait of back-end rebates. IT vendors too are realizing this change in mindsets and have focused on bringing healthy market practices. Over the past year, many vendors have streamlined their distribution strategies to remove unscrupulous players who are interested more in rotating capital than in growing their business as well as that of the channels. Instead, vendors are aligning with those who are investing their own capital rather than relying completely on distribution credit. Those who have done so have won channel preference as is evident in the following pages. n E-mail me at dhaval.valia@ubm.com

Deputy Manager—Sales : Sanjay Khandelwal sanjay.khandelwal@ubm.com (M) +91 98117 64515 Mumbai Head Business Development : Salil Warior salil.warior@ubm.com (M) +91 99875 80188 Deputy Manager – Sales : Sagar Nanal sagar.nanal@ubm.com (M) +91 98202 81302 production Deputy Manager : Prakash (Sanjay) Adsul Logistics Assistant Manager

: Bajrang Shinde

Subscriptions & Database Manager : Manoj Ambardekar manoj.ambardekar@ubm.com Senior Executive : Deepanjali Chaurasia deepa.chaurasia@ubm.com Head Office UBM India Pvt Ltd, 1st floor, 119, Sagar Tech Plaza - A, Andheri-Kurla Road, Saki Naka Junction, Andheri (E), Mumbai 400072, India Tel: 022 6769 2400; Fax: 022 6769 2426 Printed and Published by Sajid Yusuf Desai on behalf of UBM India Pvt Ltd, 6th floor, 615-617 Sagar Tech Plaza - A, Andheri-Kurla Road, Saki Naka Junction, Andheri (E), Mumbai 400072, India. Executive Editor: Dhaval Valia Printed at Indigo Press (India) Pvt Ltd, Plot No 1c/716, Off Dadaji Konddeo Cross Road, Byculla (E), Mumbai 400027

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Taiwan Transaction Media Ryan Huang r yan@transactionmedia.com Tel: +886 (2) 2708 7754 Fax: +886 (2) 2708 9914 (M): +886 (0) 9330 12759 Singapore Transaction Media Nitin Joshi nitin@transactionmedia.com Tel: +65 6866 3254 Fax: +65 6866 3636 South Korea Young Media Young Baek ymedia@chol.com Tel: +82 2227 34819 Fax: +82 2227 34866

EMEA Huson International Media, Gerry Rhoades Brown, gerryrb@husonmedia.com Tel: +44 19325 64999 Fax: + 44 19325 64998 Important Every effort has been taken to avoid errors or omissions in this magazine. In spite of this, errors may creep in. Any mistake, error or discrepancy noted may be brought to our notice immediately. It is notified that neither the publisher, the editor or the seller will be responsible in respect of anything and the consequence of anything done or omitted to be done by any person in reliance upon the content herein. This disclaimer applies to all, whether subscriber to the magazine or not. For binding mistakes, misprints, missing pages, etc, the publisher’s liability is limited to replacement within one month of purchase. © All rights are reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher. All disputes are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of competent courts and forums in Mumbai only. While care is taken prior to acceptance of advertising copy, it is not possible to verify its contents. UBM India Pvt Ltd. cannot be held responsible for such contents, nor for any loss or damages incurred as a result of transactions with companies, associations or individuals advertising in its newspapers or publications. We therefore recommend that readers make necessary inquiries before sending any monies or entering into any agreements with advertisers or otherwise acting on an advertisement in any manner whatsoever.


Consumer Desktop

12

Acer springs a surprise

Mobile PC

printer

16

HP wins a photo-finish

Flat Panel display

24

Samsung finally ahead

Antivirus

32

PC ups

Quick Heal again

APC unchallenged

MOTHERBOARD

Hard Disk Drive

40

This time it’s Asus

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20

Resurgent HP

Home Networking

28

D-Link still the favorite

microprocessor

36

38

Intel of course

43

Four in a row for Seagate

Memory Module

Kingston on top

45


methodology

Plotting channel preference

I

n the current issue we present the Channel Champions 2010 rankings for consumer products and components. In the last issue of CRN (March 1, 2010) we presented the results for the commercial product categories. Now in its ninth year, the annual CRN Channel Champions Survey aims to provide a definitive index of plotting channel satisfaction in the country. The US edition of CRN has been conducting the survey for over 19 years now. While the basic methodology comes from CRN US, we have customized it to factor in local market dynamics and ground realities. The main objective of the exercise is to lend a voice to channel perception and experience in dealing with the vendors who drive their business. At the same time, the survey aims to provide vendors a neutral view of channel expectations and how well they are managing channels and helping them to grow. In the 2010 survey we have plotted 11 categories compared to 13 product categories in 2009—the Notebook and Netbook categories which were ranked separately last year have been merged this year, while the Optical Disk Drive category has not been

Channel Champions Product Categories

2010 Winners

2009 Winners

Desktop

Acer

Hewlett Packard

Lenovo (Notebook) Mobile PC (Notebook + Netbook)* Hewlett Packard Acer (Netbook) Printer

Hewlett Packard Canon

Flat Panel Display

Samsung LG

Home Networking

D-Link D-Link

Antivirus

Quick Heal

PC UPS

APC APC

Microprocessor

Intel Intel

Motherboard

Asus Gigabyte

Hard Disk Drive

Seagate Seagate

Memory Module

Kingston Zion

* In 2010 the Notebook and Netbook categories have been merged under the Mobile PC category. In 2009 they were two separate categories

polled this year.

Survey methodology

In the consumer product and component categories we polled

Survey Demographics Total unique votes polled: 519 North 22%

South 28%

East 10% West 40% Region

Total vendor evaluations: 2,442

Class A 20% Class B 24%

Quick Heal

Class C 56%

Type of City

Partner 46%

Non-Partner 54%

an overall 519 unique respondents (compared to 604 unique respondents in the 2009 survey) across 147 cities through an online poll which ran from November 25, 2010 to January 10, 2011. With each unique reseller voting for an average of five product categories, we received a total of 2,442 vendor evaluations across 11 categories (compared to 3,578 evaluations in 2009 across 13 categories). For each product category unique respondents voted their vendor preference and satisfaction on seven key criteria and 21 sub-criteria. Product availability: Included parameters such as the ready and regular availability of products, and whether a product was over- or underdistributed.

type of reseller

Continued on page 10 ä

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methodology

ä Continued from page 8

Price-performance: Included sub-criteria such as product features, quality and reliability, and price. Channel profitability: The overall profitability that partners could achieve while dealing with a particular vendor. This included the front-end margins offered and the back-end incentives that resellers could earn on tactical schemes and strategic partner programs. Brand-pull and customer marketing: This criterion includes the brand-pull enjoyed by vendors among end-customers, local customer marketing, and promotions conducted to drive consumer demand. Channel marketing and training: Includes elements such as channel schemes to encourage partners to do more business; market development funds provided to partners; regular communication about new products and price changes; and channel meets for product training and providing other information about the company’s GTM. Post-sales support: Includes aspects such as warranty policy, RMA turnaround and escalation mechanism, toll-free phone support, and Web and e-mail support. Channel policy and management: Respondents voted on parameters such as fairness, transparency and swiftness of various channel processes, and the accessibility and responsiveness of local channel teams and national channel managers.

Scoring

For each product category respondents were asked to vote for one of their top three vendors in terms of business dealings and rate it on the seven key criteria and 21 sub-criteria. It must be mentioned here that the CRN Channel Champions survey is open-ended, and resellers are allowed to rate any vendor of their choice; we don’t compel respondents to choose

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519 unique channel partners from 147 cities voted for the 11 consumer categories totalling 2,442 vendor evaluations vendors from a list of names. Vendors that received less than 10 percent of the total votes polled in a particular category were not considered eligible and were not considered in the final ranking. For instance, in the Mobile PC category, we received 340 unique

votes (from 340 unique resellers), and hence any vendor who got less than 34 votes did not make it to the final rankings table. Brands such as Toshiba and Sony failed to make the cut in the final ranking because they failed to receive the minimum 34 votes. Within the finalists, we arrived at the average scores for each vendor for each criterion. Under each main criterion the scores of the sub-criteria were added and averaged to arrive at the overall criterion ranking. Individual criterion scores were added to arrive at the final score, and the final rankings were based on this overall score. In slicing and dicing the survey data, and providing deeper insights to arrive at the final rankings, we were ably helped by our knowledge partner, Aranca, India’s leading B2B research agency. n FORM IV

STATEMENT ABOUT OWNERSHIP AND OTHER PARTICULARS ABOUT NEWSPAPER COMPUTER RESELLER NEWS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE FIRST ISSUE EVERY YEAR AFTER THE LAST DAY OF FEBRUARY 1. PLACE OF PUBLICATION 2. PERIODICITY OF ITS PUBLICATION 3. PRINTERS NAME NATIONALITY 1[(a) WHETHER A CITIZEN OF INDIA? (b) IF A FOREIGNER, THE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN ADDRESS 4. PUBLISHER’S NAME NATIONALITY 1[(a) WHETHER A CITIZEN OF INDIA? (b) IF A FOREIGNER, THE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN] ADDRESS 5. EDTOR’S NAME NATIONALITY 1[(a) WHETHER CITIZEN OF INDIA (b) IF A FOREIGNER, THE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN] ADDRESS 6. NAMES AND ADDRESSES OF INDIVIDUALS WHO OWN THE NEWSPAPER AND PARTNERS OR SHAREHOLDERS HOLDING MORE THAN ONE PER CENT OF THE TOTAL CAPITAL

MUMBAI FORTNIGHTLY SAJID YUSUF DESAI INDIAN YES NOT APPLICABLE SAGAR TECH PLAZA, A 615-617, 6TH FLOOR, ANDHERI KURLA ROAD, SAKI NAKA JUNCTION, ANDHERI (E), MUMBAI 400 072, INDIA SAJID YUSUF DESAI INDIAN YES NOT APPLICABLE SAGAR TECH PLAZA, A 615-617, 6TH FLOOR, ANDHERI KURLA ROAD, SAKI NAKA JUNCTION, ANDHERI (E), MUMBAI 400 072, INDIA DHAVAL VALIA INDIAN YES NOT APPLICABLE SAGAR TECH PLAZA, A 615-617, 6TH FLOOR, ANDHERI KURLA ROAD, SAKI NAKA JUNCTION, ANDHERI (E), MUMBAI 400 072, INDIA UBM INDIA PVT LTD., SAGAR TECH PLAZA, A 615-617, 6TH FLOOR, ANDHERI KURLA ROAD, SAKI NAKA JUNCTION, ANDHERI (E), MUMBAI 400 072, INDIA STORMCLIFF LIMITED JULIA HOUSE, 3, THEMISTOCLES DERVIS STREET, 1O66, NICOSIA, CYPRUS

I SAJID YUSUF DESAI, HEREBY DECLARE THAT THE PARTICULARS GIVEN ABOVE ARE TRUE AND TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE AND BELIEF. DATED: 15TH FEBRUARY 2011 

SIGNATURE OF PUBLISHER


Consumer Desktop

Acer springs a surprise

T

he consumer desktop category has a new winner this year. Acer, which has been consistently improving its ranking in the Channel Champions Survey, bagged the top honors due to its smart pricing, improvement in channel engagement, and improvement in post-sales support. Last year’s winner, HP, which polled the maximum votes, came second by a wafer-thin margin, followed by Lenovo, Dell and HCL. The channel preference scores between the top four vendors are narrow. This shows that there is intense competition in the segment, that with the category getting commoditized brand loyalty among channels is waning, and that resellers are focusing on brands which offer better margins.

Acer

Acer was the most active consumer desktop vendor through the year, offering very aggressive prices. The

company has the Acer Entra model at an entry-level price of `12,500, which, respondents in smaller cities said, contributed good volumes. The company was innovative with its customer promotions. Acer partners said the company offered different consumer schemes in different regions. Every month the company floated new schemes that led to more demand. While respondents admitted that Acer has a low performance perception among customers, its price differential of more than 10 percent over HP and Dell is a good-enough proposition for customers in Class B and C cities. Respondents said that Acer was particularly aggressive in its offerings for students. In several markets Acer encouraged resellers to sell its desktops with a 3-year warranty extension pack which was priced at `1,500. The company improved its channel engagement, conducted

Score Card Criteria

Acer

Product availability

96.6 98.3 97.4 98.1 91.1

Price-performance

86.2 85.6 83.5 84.5 79.4

Channel profitability

74.8 72.7 76.3 72.9 73.1

Brand-pull and customer marketing

84.5

86.8

83.2

85.1

80.9

Channel marketing and training

75.6

74.9

72.0

74.2

62.7

Post-sales support

78.8 79.6 78.7 77.8 69.0

Channel policy and management

81.5

Final Score

HP Lenovo Dell HCL

76.5

79.7

73.4

72.1

82.5 82.1 81.5 80.9 75.5 *Scores out of 100

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regular meets with its sub-distributors and retailers, shared its quarterly plans, and took feedback from them to launch new schemes or resolve channel issues. For the first time it introduced regular training for its retail partners, which was appreciated. Respondents said that in 2010 Acer improved its post-sales support by revamping and expanding its network of ASPs who drew a lot of criticism in 2009.

Hewlett Packard

HP received higher scores from nonpartners than partners. Non-partners opined that HP’s new distribution strategy and channel policy have created a more level-playing field for them. In the past they were unable to compete against HP partners because they couldn’t match the prices offered by the latter as most of them (HP partners) used their back-end incentives to discount prices. With the new policy of fixed front-end margins, and HP’s emphasis on maintaining a consistent MOP, non-partners were able to do more business—profitably. Non-partners also appreciated the fact that HP did many channel schemes for smaller resellers selling less than five PCs per month. HP partners, while admitting that the new distribution strategy and channel policies have helped in reining in the MOP fluctuations and also in increasing profitability, expressed their frustration with HP’s policy of demanding brand exclusivity. As a result, they were compelled to stop doing other PC brands which they said impacted their overall business. Respondents from Maharashtra, Karnataka and some states in the north pointed out that there has been Continued on page 14 ä


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Consumer Desktop

ä Continued from page 12

a constant churn in re-distribution partners. Many RDs who were signed up have either dropped out or have been replaced. They said that they expect more consistency from tier-2 suppliers. HP-Compaq is the brand with the highest recognition and pull. While HP has been pushing Compaq desktops in Class B and C cities, it was seen as more active with the Pavilion brand through its HP World stores and in Class A cities. HP positioned Pavilion aggressively by introducing an entry-level price of `23,000, which, respondents said, helped create more demand. Many HP World partners said that HP improved its overall branding and marketing at HP World, and this led to more footfalls. A common complaint from respondents is that HP is more focused on driving its notebooks than desktops.

Lenovo

Lenovo retained its third spot, and respondents felt that it provided the best margins among all brands. The company cut down the number of RDs in many areas. This, respondents said, reduced over-distribution, thus making its MOP uniform and improving their profitability. Lenovo’s strategy to have smallformat stores has worked. Since low investment is required to start a smallformat store, Lenovo has been able to sign up a large number of partners. Partners who took the survey said that Lenovo has improved its channel engagement. The company introduced the concept of quarterly meets for its top RDs and retail partners and was quick in resolving issues raised by partners at the meets. The company still needs to improve its pricing and brand awareness; it also needs to do innovative marketing to create

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Survey Demographics Unique votes polled for Consumer Desktop category: 312

North 28% East 12%

South 27%

Class A 16% Class B 22%

West 33% Region

Type of City

demand. Lenovo’s prices are 8-10 percent higher than those of Compaq Presario and Dell Inspiron. In Class A and a few Class B cities, some respondents said that Lenovo is getting too focused on LFRs.

Dell

Respondents felt that Dell is focused more on notebooks, and that it needs to do a better job with desktops. While Dell aligned exclusively with Supertron to distribute Inspiron desktops, respondents said the company needs to do more channel and customer marketing. Dell is more price-aggressive than HP, and in Class C cities it is moving faster than HP, said respondents. They said customers are often confused

HP partners expressed their frustration about the brand exclusivity policy due to which they were compelled to stop doing other PC brands

Class C 62%

Non-Partner 33% Partner 67%

type of reseller

because the prices of Dell products mentioned on its Web site are lower than what’s available through the distribution channel. In H22010 respondents said there were delays in delivery of online orders placed through channels. The company lacks a strong portfolio in the sub-`22,000 desktop segment where other MNC vendors have at least one offering.

HCL

The company lacked a clear strategy in the consumer PC market during 2010. Both partners and non-partners said that in its zeal to create space for itself in the notebook segment, the company lost mind share and market share in the desktop space—and also failed to create much traction for its notebooks. In Class A cities, HCL lost channel connect and received less than 5 percent votes. It got 30 percent votes from Class B cities and the remaining from Class C cities. The company’s post-sales support has also suffered, and received the lowest score. Respondents said that if HCL doesn’t get its PC strategy right it will impact its channel mind share further. n


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Mobile PC

HP wins a photo-finish

T

his year the netbook and notebook categories have been combined under the mobile PC category. The consumer mobile PC category saw another close fight between HP, Lenovo, Acer and Dell. The channel preference margin between the four PC vendors has reduced substantially. In 2009 Acer won the netbook category, while Lenovo led in notebooks. In 2010 HP edged past both these vendors in the combined mobile PC category to become the Channel Champion. Lenovo followed HP, with Acer edging out Dell to take the third spot. Although Samsung, Toshiba and Sony were aggressive in the market during 2010, they failed to poll the minimum 10 percent of the overall mobile PC category votes and thus didn’t make it to the final list.

Hewlett Packard

HP topped in product availability,

channel policies and management, and channel marketing. The company revamped its distribution strategy in Q22010, adopting a zonal distribution model. HP also made changes in its channel policies and fixed the distributor and sub-distributor transfer prices which respondents said helped stabilize the MOP to a great extent and resulted in better margins across the channel. HP World partners expressed satisfaction with the schemes HP ran for its mobile PCs during 2010. The company also offered exclusive models and schemes from time to time through its authorized retail outlets. Respondents said that compared to other brands, HP was the least pushy in the LFR segment. The company offers the largest range of netbooks and notebooks at every possible price-point in the market. Nevertheless, respondents said that HP lacks

Score Card Criteria

HP

Lenovo

Product availability

96.7

94.5

Price-performance

83.9 82.1

83.1 84.3

Channel profitability

73.5

75.7

73.9

71.9

Brand-pull and customer marketing

88.9

86.1

86.4

89.9

Channel marketing and training

75.9

74.1

72.8

70.2

Post-sales support

79.8

78.2

78.6

78.9

Channel policy and management

82.9

82.6

80.8

76.8

Final Score

Acer Dell 94.7

95.1

83.1 81.9 81.5 81.0 *Scores out of 100

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a good SKU in the sub-`22,000 category where other vendors have been selling Pentium Dual Corebased notebooks. Respondents also pointed out that HP was late in introducing notebook models with Core i processors at the beginning of the year. On the product front, HP continued with the strategy of positioning Compaq Presario for the value segment and Pavilion for the mainstream market. The big mover for HP was the HP G series, which partners noted was positioned against the Vostro range from Dell and the Essential series from Lenovo. Respondents said that the entry of telco retailers has not affected their business, and that they saw no negative impact of buying through the telco partners HP appointed. However, respondents said that the brand exclusivity clause from HP has forced them to stock and sell other brands and thus impacted their business volumes. They also reported attrition of authorized sub-distributors in north India and states such as Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Lenovo

Lenovo was rated as the notebook company which provides the maximum profit margins. On price-performance, respondents said that Lenovo continues to price its models at an 8-10 percent premium over Compaq and Dell, and opined that the company needs to review its pricing strategy. Lenovo consolidated its RDs in many parts of the country, and launched around 200 LESlite stores in 2010. Many RDs who took the Continued on page 18 ä


Mobile PC

ä Continued from page 16

poll said that these moves increased their sales volume. The availability of Lenovo products has improved after it added Rashi as its national distributor. However, it still lacks the market penetration that the other three brands have. The consolidation of its SMB and consumer business under one business unit in March 2010 allowed both Lenovo stores and multi-brand stores to sell Thinkpads, which, respondents said, helped them to find new customers. The company held quarterly meets for its leading partners, and was prompt in resolving any issues raised by the partners at these meets. This, respondents said, created a very positive influence on the company’s channel engagement.

Acer

Respondents said that Acer was not as price-aggressive as it was last year, but was still much cheaper than the rest of the major brands in the value mobile PC segment. Its eMachines brand, with a sub-`13,000 netbook model and sub-`20,000 notebook models, has been able to make inroads in the price-conscious consumer segment in smaller cities. Acer continued to be the most active brand in the netbook category. Respondents lauded Acer for its improved quality and design of products—particularly its Timeline X series notebooks which, with their thin form factor and longer battery life, gave the company a strong technology differentiation vis-à-vis competing models. The company revamped and expanded its master reseller (subdistributor) partner program to improve market coverage and product availability in upcountry locations. However, a few of its

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Survey Demographics Unique votes polled for Mobile PC category: 340

North 25% East 11%

South 26%

West 38%

Class A 19% Class B 23%

Region

Type of City

retail partners complained that the master resellers were selling directly to customers, thus affecting their business. While Acer did act on this feedback and introduced a higher back-end for exclusive retail partners, it made many of the subdistributors unhappy.

Dell

Dell received more non-partner votes compared to the other three brands. It polled higher than competitors in brand awareness and customer marketing, and respondents opined that Dell has overtaken HP as the PC brand with the strongest brandpull. Dell has been the biggest advertiser in the print media, and in

Dell changes its prices more frequently than other vendors, and without prior notice, hence many partners and non-partners don’t like to stock the product

Class C 58%

Partner 61%

Non-Partner 39%

type of reseller

Class A cities advertised almost on a daily basis. This, many non-partners said, compelled them to offer Dell along with an alternate brand. Dell was the fastest to launch new models in the market, also the most price-aggressive when it came to high-end configurations. In netbooks, respondents opined that Dell lacks a clear strategy. The biggest complaint about Dell is that the prices at which the products are transferred to the reseller from its master sales affiliates are higher than the prices offered directly by the Dell Web site. During the middle of 2010, respondents reported that there were delays in the delivery of online orders and this affected business. Dell changes its prices more frequently than other vendors and also without prior notice to the channels. As a result, many partners and non-partners don’t like to stock the product and mostly prefer to work on back-toback online orders. Respondents want Dell to communicate price changes at least a couple of weeks in advance. There were also complaints about delays in settling back-end rebate claims. n


printer

Resurgent HP

T

he consumer printer category consists of inkjet and lasers— both standalones and multifunctions. Priced under `10,000, these are sold to consumers and SOHOs. HP, on the back of its revamped distribution and channel policies, won the hearts of the channel. On the back of rigorous marketing, both among consumers and channels, Epson moved to the second position. 2009 Channel Champion Canon was pushed to third place. Samsung came fourth due to the lack of an inkjet portfolio.

Hewlett Packard

The reason for HP’s poor showing in 2009 was the serious shortage of several of its models, particularly fast-moving ones. The second big issue was the lack of a uniform MOP due to over-distribution leading to price undercutting. This affected channel profitability in a big way.

The third issue was the lack of competitive pricing—HP was seen charging 15-20 percent more than competitors for various models aimed at consumers and SOHOs. In 2010, HP addressed all these issues which led to improved channel preference and satisfaction. It reduced the number of subdistributors in each region, and also rationalized the incentive structure to benefit partners even on lower slabs, thus reducing undue pressure on the T2 channel to stock more. The company’s post-sales support received higher score compared to counterparts. HP reduced the prices of its printers by up to 25 percent. For the first time, the company introduced an inkjet MFP under `3,500. While HP addressed the availability issue to a large extent, a few models continued to be in short supply and hence witnessed black marketeering. This resulted in resellers having to sell it above MRP to consumers.

Score Card Criteria

HP

Product availability

95.9

Price-performance

87.1 83.6 83.4 81.7

Channel profitability

73.6

77.3

75.1

74.8

Brand-pull and customer marketing

93.1

89.1

87.2

85.1

Channel marketing and training

79.7

81.5

71.5

73.7

Post-sales support

85.9

84.6

78.8

75.7

Channel policy and management

81.6

80.4

78.8

78.0

Final Score

Epson Canon Samsung 93.7

92.2

92.6

85.3 84.3 81.0 80.6 *Scores out of 100

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Respondents had two bits of advice for HP—first, to reduce the prices of its cartridges, and second, to lower the frequency of product launches in fast-moving categories. While the company claims that its cost of per page printed is lower for inkjets, the channel and consumer perception is otherwise. Respondents said that they cannot focus on selling popular models because of frequent product refreshes.

Epson

Epson turned out be the surprise package of 2010, doing well both in the commercial and consumer printer categories. The company improved its market coverage and channel connect, polling 25 percent more votes than in 2009. The company also gained in channel acceptance which is evident from its second position. Respondents witnessed a more active Epson in terms of customer marketing and overall channel engagement. According to respondents, the company offers the best profit margins and the best cost per page for inkjet color printing. The company was particularly aggressive in pushing its photo printer portfolio which is ranked better than even HP’s. Epson also enabled partners to target the photo lab and student market. Overall, respondents said they saw Epson’s engagement improve through its nDimension program.

Canon

The company wasn’t able to keep up the momentum it built in 2009. Respondents said that Canon was less aggressive during 2010. It was ranked low on channel and customer marketing, as well as overall channel Continued on page 22 ä


printer

ä Continued from page 20

engagement. In the inkjet category, Canon is perceived to lag behind both HP and Epson in terms of portfolio. On the laser printer front, respondents questioned the company’s decision to discontinue the LBF 2900 model—which, according to them, was Canon’s best-selling model.

Samsung

What Samsung lacks in the consumer printer category is an inkjet portfolio which forms a large chunk of the business done in this segment. In the SOHO space, Samsung’s laser portfolio is regarded as a great price-performance bet. During 2010, Samsung pushed its color laser printers to premium users in both the SOHO and home segments; these were said to be the cheapest color lasers in the market. Samsung

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Survey Demographics Unique votes polled for Printer category: 220

North 25% East 10%

South 27%

West 38% Region

Class A 23% Class B 24%

Class C 53%

Type of City

also ran schemes providing free cartridges with its lasers; these schemes were appreciated by respondents as they helped generate more demand. According to respondents, Samsung continues to work with

Partner 55%

Non-Partner 45%

type of reseller

a select number of partners, and has a good channel policy and management framework. The company needs to expand its portfolio (to include inkjets) if it wants to be a serious player in the consumer segment. n


FLAT PANEL display

Samsung on top

S

were launched in Q4. In 2010, LED shipments were 10 percent of the overall flat panel display shipments.

amsung edged past LG as the most preferred channel vendor in the flat panel monitor category which has been hotly contested for the past several years. Samsung, which was a close number two in 2008 and 2009, improved its channel preference on the back of its revamped distribution strategy and channel policies. What possibly worked against LG was the shortage of some of its fastmoving models during the year; this, many partners said, impacted their business. AOC improved its channel preference riding on its better market coverage, smart pricing strategy, and improved channel marketing and engagement. Acer continues to play on its aggressive pricing strategy and is even more price-competitive than AOC. Overall, in the flat panel display category, LCD continued to be the dominant technology. LED monitors

Samsung

The company revamped its distribution strategy and aligned its national distributors to exclusive regions. It consolidated the number of sub-distributors in each territory and fixed the distributor and subdistributor transfer price; this resulted in a more uniform and stable MOP, and created a level-playing field for resellers of all sizes. The new GTM, respondents said, curbed price discounting and provided stable profit margins to resellers. Under the new channel policy, Samsung distributors float prices for every month to set the MOP in the market. The company also increased the frequency of channel schemes as distributors and sub-distributors now manage the schemes in their region.

Score Card Criteria

Samsung LG AOC Acer

Product availability

95.5

91.3

Price-performance

89.4

83.5 87.5 81.6

Channel profitability

77.5

75.9

78.7

73.8

Brand-pull and customer marketing

82.6

81.9

76.6

77.9

Channel marketing and training

75.6

69.4

73.2

62.8

Post-sales support

80.8

77.8

72.8

75.6

Channel policy and management

84.0

79.7

76.0

75.2

Final Score

91.9

90.9

83.6 79.9 79.5 76.8 *Scores out of 100

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This has resulted in faster payout of incentives; respondents said they get incentive payouts within a week of the end of the month. The other positive for Samsung was the expansion of its support infrastructure in smaller cities, thus improving the post-sales experience of resellers. Respondents in states such as Gujarat and Uttaranchal said that the company added new service centers in many small cities.

LG

LG’s regional distributors (RDs), while admitting that the volume of their flat panel display business grew along expected lines in 2010, said that the profitability was nowhere near what it should be. They opined that the company’s regional distribution model, which had been hailed as the best in the past, now needs to be reviewed and consolidated as it is creating over-distribution and affecting the MOP which has led to the erosion of margins. LG’s channel preference also suffered due to the non-availability of its two fast-moving 18.5” models. In the south, many respondents said that due to the non-availability they sold Acer. LG’s score on channel policy and management suffered in regions other than the north. In the west the company lost (to Samsung) a senior manager who had a strong rapport with LG partners, hence it received low scores on channel engagement and management. In spite of this, LG continues to be the most formidable brand in terms of brand awareness and customer-pull. Its channel systems and policies are regarded as the best in the segment, and the company is vigorous in its customer and channel marketing. Continued on page 26 ä


FLAT PANEL display

ä Continued from page 24

Most of its RDs who took the survey have been partners of LG for over five years. They said they trust the company will listen to their feedback and address all challenges and issues, and continue to be the same channel-friendly company it has been for years. Respondents doing both LG and Samsung products said that LG needs to review and revamp its distribution strategy and policies to govern the MOP and ensure more profitability for partners.

Survey Demographics Unique votes polled for Flat Panel Display category: 256 North 22%

South 28%

East 12% West 38%

Class A 22% Class B 22%

Region

Class C 56%

Type of City

Partner 48%

Non-Partner 52%

type of reseller

AOC

AOC increased its channel acceptance during 2010, and as a result voted 25 percent more votes than in 2009. The company managed to sign up some good sub-distributors in Class B and C cities; this helped AOC to connect with a wider channel and improved the overall visibility of the brand. In addition, AOC improved its stocking in many regions, thus improving availability. However, in some cities like Pune, respondents complained that they have to source products from Mumbai. With prices more than 10 percent lower than LG and Samsung, AOC is doing brisk business among price-conscious consumers in smaller cities. Interestingly, many sub-distributors of AOC said that the brand is doing good business with its LED range because it costs less than the same-size LCD from LG and Samsung. In fact, resellers suggested AOC LEDs to customers who asked for LG and Samsung LCD monitors. Even with its low prices, AOC leaves a good margin for partners, hence it got higher scores than all vendors on the channel profitability parameter. While respondents said its post-

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sales support doesn’t compare to that of LG or Samsung, it has clearly improved compared to the previous year. AOC improved its channel marketing by floating tactical and strategic channel incentive schemes which motivated resellers to sell more. The channel engagement at the local level has improved, and respondents said they receive regular calls from the local sales representative. But AOC lacks brand-pull and customer marketing. Respondents said that the company, with an expanded distribution and post-sales support infrastructure, should now embark on a national advertising campaign and couple that with below-the-line activities in local markets.

Respondents still feel that Acer’s strategy is more tactical than strategic, and lacks any long-term channel engagement policy

Acer

Although Acer has been in the monitor market for more than two years now, many respondents still feel that the company’s strategy for the flat panel display business is more tactical than strategic, and lacks any long-term channel engagement policy. The company continues to be strong in the south, receiving more than 66 percent votes from the region followed by 14 percent each from the west and north. From the east it got only 6 percent votes. South respondents informed that the company made frequent changes in its sub-distributor network resulting in confusion among T3 partners regarding the issue of where to buy from. Acer’s biggest advantage is its pricing, which is 5 percent less than AOC’s. With its presence in the PC market, it also enjoys good brand awareness. Many LG partners in the south said they sold Acer during shortages of LG products. While the company conducted some good channel schemes, many T3 respondents said the schemes were only for T2 partners. n


Home Networking

D-Link still the favorite

D

-Link retained its Channel Champion crown. Netgear is the most recognized brand after D-Link, and with the improvement in its GTM moved to the second spot. Belkin did well to move to the third position on the back of streamlined distribution. Digisol entered the market only in H22010, but quickly gained in channel preference to achieve the fourth spot. Linksys, despite being perceived as strong on performance, failed to capture channel preference. The marginal difference in the channel preference scores of various brands suggests how competitive the home and SOHO networking segment has become. Respondents said that with so many brands—many Chinese brands have entered the market— the channel preference for specific brands has reduced in this category. The intense competition has led to pricing pressure, and margins have suffered. In addition, there’s no strong differentiation in terms of product or

technology innovations in this space, thus making it a largely price-led market.

D-Link

D-Link continues to be the most widely distributed and readily available home and SOHO networking brand. It also enjoys strong brand awareness and customer-pull. The company’s post-sales support was ranked higher than that of its counterparts, although many respondents in Class C cities complained of a longer TAT for repair and replacement. On priceperformance it was ranked fourth. Respondents said that while it’s good on performance, other brands have priced their products lower. By virtue of being the most widely distributed brand, D-Link offers the least profit margin to channels; however, the higher volumes make up for the lower margin, said respondents. Many respondents pointed out that

Score Card Criteria

D-Link Netgear Belkin Digisol Linksys

Product availability

92.3

Price-performance

90.1 90.6 90.6 90.5 89.1

Channel profitability

82.1

83.3

84.3

84.5

83.4

Brand-pull and customer marketing

92.3

89.9

86.8

82.2

86.2

Channel marketing and training

78.9

75.4

79.1

82.5

68.1

Post-sales support

88.1

87.9

84.9

82.3

76.9

Channel policy and management

86.7

88.5

86.7

88.7

78.5

Final Score

86.8

89.1

87.2

75.9

87.2 86.1 85.9 85.4 79.7 *Scores out of 100

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because D-Link and Digisol continue to be sold largely through a common channel, there’s an overlap of interests in the channel. They reported that Digisol is being sold to home and SOHO customers as a sub-brand of D-Link, and that this is being done by resellers because Digisol is aggressive in channel schemes and is offering products at prices lower than D-Link, yet with better margins.

Netgear

The company improved its channel preference in 2010 over the previous year, and moved up the ranks. It was seen as more vigorous with channel marketing schemes, and improved its market coverage and channel connect polling 15 percent more votes compared to 2009. There were no major availability issues in most of the cities that Netgear polled votes from. However, a few respondents, particularly from northern cities like Faridabad and Kanpur, complained of supply delays due to which they sold other brands. These respondents complained that certain Netgear products are not readily available with the distributor, and that they have a delivery leadtime of a week even for fast-moving products, a situation which in the retail segment doesn’t augur well. While respondents appreciated the range of Netgear’s home and SOHO products—the company launched several new products during the year—they said it would have helped resellers sell smartly had the company conducted training programs on the new products. Respondents said the company should spend more on advertising and customer marketing. On channel policy and management, Netgear received low scores on the subparameter of timely incentive payouts. Continued on page 30 ä


Home Networking

ä Continued from page 28

Survey Demographics

However, overall, respondents reported an improvement in channel engagement. The company also improved its post-sales support, and respondents said that, with a few exceptions, the TAT has improved significantly. North 21%

Belkin

Belkin moved up the channel preference ladder. The company enjoys a strong channel connect in the west and south from where it polled more than 80 percent votes. In the north the company improved its market coverage and channel connect, but in the east it lacks coverage and got only 5 percent votes. According to respondents, the company’s 5-year warranty is a big differentiator. While the warranty support was rated good in Class A cities, in smaller cities from where Belkin polled more than 60 percent votes respondents complained of a TAT of 20-25 days for replacement from Accel Frontline, Belkin’s exclusive national ASP, because the service provider often doesn’t have buffer stocks for replacement. They also said that Accel doesn’t inform on RMA status. The company was aggressive in its channel marketing, and ran exciting schemes. Respondents said that Belkin lacks customer-pull, and needs to do more customer-centric marketing to build awareness. They also wished that Belkin conducted more training programs and channel meets to update small-city resellers.

Digisol

Digisol is the youngest brand, launched in H22010, but because of its established distribution and post-sales support network it quickly gained channel preference. Respondents said that Digisol has been innovative in its product design and packaging, and this helped create a certain differentiation while selling

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Unique votes polled for Home Networking category: 217

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South 31%

East 7% West 41%

Region

Class B 27%

In 2009 the SOHO and consumer networking brand of Cisco had shown great promise by achieving the

Home and SOHO networking is getting intensely competitive with Chinese brands entering the Indian market

Class C 50%

Type of City

to retail customers. Digisol was also reported to be aggressive with channel schemes, and offered products at prices lower than D-Link, yet with better margins. Many regional distributors (RDs) of Digisol, who were earlier RDs for D-Link, said they are putting extra effort to make Digisol more popular because they share a longstanding relationship with Digisol’s management. Respondents said the Digisol brand lacks strong brandpull, and the company will have to undertake innovative marketing to create brand awareness and pull.

Linksys

Partner 23%

Class A 23%

Non-Partner 77%

type of reseller

second spot. In 2010 the company disappointed, and one reason for this was the product shortage which compelled resellers to sell other brands. Respondents said that due to the product shortage the company didn’t do any channel marketing activity or launch new products. As a result, the buzz was lacking around the Linksys brand last year. The other issue highlighted was the lack of a strong sub-distribution network. Also, there have been changes in the sub-distributor network. Respondents said that in such a scenario they have to buy from distributors, but the problem is that distributors are not interested in billing smaller quantities to smaller resellers. While in Class A cities the company’s toll-free support and warranty support got good ratings, in smaller cities respondents complained that because the company doesn’t have a dedicated support provider, for any in-warranty failure they have to take the product to the dealer who has to send it to the closest distributor’s office. The whole process makes the TAT long and unpredictable, hence more often than not they are forced to replace the product on their own and wait for the replacement to arrive. n


Antivirus

Quick Heal again

Q

campaign in Class A cities in order to create more customer preference. Many respondents from these cities said that their sales increased by 25-30 percent due to this campaign. Quick Heal ranks high in channel marketing and training. The company ran several channel schemes during the year, and conducted road shows in different cities to educate resellers on new features such as USB theft protection. It’s also seen as a company which is regular in disseminating information regarding products, prices and schemes. Respondents appreciated Quick Heal’s improved and structured renewal system which was introduced in 2010; the system makes it easier for customers and resellers to renew licenses. This, along with many attractive renewal schemes floated during the year, helped bring more renewal revenue for respondents. The company offers a healthy

uick Heal retained its title as the most preferred channel brand in the consumer and SOHO antivirus (AV) category (1-5 user licenses). Norton retained the second spot. K7 made a surprise entry in the rankings with the third place. Kaspersky continued to be the most widely distributed brand after Quick Heal.

Quick Heal

Quick Heal is not only the most widely distributed AV but is also considered the best priceperformance option. It enjoys a brand pull that no other AV brand does in the consumer and SOHO category. The company’s post-sales support, provided by its own ground staff in over 25 cities, is its most notable feature. During 2010 the company increased its branch presence in some Class B cities, particularly in the north and east. It ran a high-decibel marketing

Score Card Criteria

Quick Heal

Norton

K7

Kaspersky

Product availability

98.8

94.7

93.4

95.8

Price-performance

89.4

88.9 79.5 88.1

Channel profitability

84.1

79.2

81.8

84.8

Brand-pull and customer marketing

92.4

86.6

82.6

78.7

Channel marketing and training

90.1

88.6

87.8

71.7

Post-sales support

91.4

82.8

80.5

81.5

Channel policy and management

90.4

85.6

86.1

76.9

Final Score

90.9 86.6 84.5 82.5 *Scores out of 100

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profit margin of close to 25 percent. One pain-point highlighted by many respondents is the increasing prices of Quick Heal. During 2010, the company raised the prices of its various AV offerings by up to 20 percent. Respondents opined that Quick Heal shouldn’t raise its prices further because it will affect affordability and impact its market share.

Norton

Many Norton partners in Class A cities said that their Norton business increased by up to 20 percent during 2010 due to price revision, better availability and control of counterfeits. The company streamlined its distribution by appointing one sub-distributor in every large city or region; this helped increase the market coverage and availability of products in Class B and C cities. Respondents said that the improved availability and lower prices have helped control the menace of counterfeits which was a big painpoint in 2008 and 2009. The company failed to receive a single vote from the eastern region indicating that it lacks a proper distribution network there. Norton was vigorous in rolling out channel schemes during the year. The company’s partner program, Norton Champs, was well appreciated. Where Norton lacks is partner profitability, post-sales support and channel engagement in smaller cities. The company offers the least profit margin to resellers, averaging around 10 percent on 3-user licenses; it offers no renewal benefits for partners. Most AV brands have local technical executives for providing Continued on page 34 ä


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Antivirus

ä Continued from page 32

installation and post-sales support, which is much in demand in smaller cities. Symantec Norton lacks this, and hence received very low scores on this parameter from Class B and C cities. Respondents said they haven’t seen any engagement from the Norton team in terms of either channel meets, training programs or sales visits. The benefits of the various channel schemes launched by Norton don’t reach them as these are sub-distributor-centric. Norton doesn’t enjoy the pull factor in Class C cities that it does in large cities; despite this, the company is doing nothing to change the situation.

K7

K7 Computing surprised us by achieving the number three spot and winning more votes than Norton. The company, which polled most votes from the south in 2009, has managed to improve its market coverage and channel connect in the other three regions as well. However, it needs to be pointed out that K7 polled zero votes from Class A cities. This indicates that the company’s strategy seems to be to garner market share in smaller cities. During 2010, K7 increased its marketing and branding activities in smaller cities; according to respondents, this helped to create more customer demand. Under its K7 Virus Hunter program, it ran a series of attractive channel schemes which made performing resellers eligible for high-value rewards. The biggest turning point for the company was the improvement in its post-sales support in smaller cities. During 2010 the company placed a team of 24 field engineers in various locations across India to provide installation, post-sales support and training to resellers. It also introduced 9x7 toll-free

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Survey Demographics Unique votes polled for Antivirus category: 207 North 22%

South 28%

East 9% West 41%

Class A 17% Class B 27%

Region

Type of City

support. Many respondents said they have begun selling K7 because of its improved support.

Kaspersky

Kaspersky is the second-most popular AV brand among resellers in the home and SOHO category. It polled the maximum votes after Quick Heal. The company continues to be strong in the south with nearly 60 percent of the votes polled from the region. Also, nearly 65 percent of the votes polled by the company came from Class C cities. During H22010, Kaspersky worked on addressing several issues that were highlighted in the 2009 survey. The company streamlined its

Norton retained the second spot. K7 made a surprise entry in the rankings. Kaspersky continued to be the second-most widely distributed brand

Class C 56%

Partner 51%

Non-Partner 49%

type of reseller

distribution, put a pricing structure in place, and took steps to stop the abuse of its 3-user license pack which in the past saw many resellers selling the pack to three separate users. It came out with a partner program, and appointed a new national distributor and a number of sub-distributors. Respondents said that while these changes sound good, they are yet to see an impact as all the elements of the new GTM fell into place only toward the end of 2010. The company offers profit margins of 30-40 percent, which is the highest among all brands. In order to improve local support, the company enabled its new sub-distributors to provide installation and post-sales; this led to improvements in post-sales support. However, in some regions, respondents opined that the quality of the technical support resource with the local sub-distributor isn’t as expected, and needs enhancement. Overall, respondents believe that Kaspersky has made several positive changes to its channel engagement. Nevertheless, it still needs to execute the new GTM on the ground. n


PC UPS

APC unchallenged

I

n the UPS category for home and SOHO (under 1 kVA range) APC retained its title as the most channel-preferred vendor. iBall took the number two spot, while Numeric came third followed by Microtek.

APC

APC continues to be the most widely distributed brand. During 2010, APC improved the quality of its home and SOHO UPS range. APC’s failure rate, which was considered high earlier, has been reduced. Respondents said that APC enhanced the performance of its products during 2010, and increased the backup time of its 600 VA UPS. In Class C cities respondents said that the voltage fluctuation handling range of APC is less than the other three brands, and in upcountry areas—where the quality of power is worse in terms of power cuts, surges and fluctuations—the failure rate is higher. It’s here that the other brands are giving APC tough competition.

In Class A and B cities the company enjoys a strong positive perception about its quality and performance. While APC received good scores on warranty support in Class A and most B cities, in smaller cities respondents said it needs to improve its TAT which often exceeds seven days. Respondents want APC to conduct more channel marketing schemes and also spend more in local marketing and customer promotions.

iBall

The brand made it to the Channel Champions’ final list for the first time, and took the second spot. The difference in scores between iBall and APC was marginal. iBall scored well on the parameters of channel profitability, post-sales support, and channel policy and management. The company has limited market coverage; it polled 70 percent of its votes from the west, 20 percent from the east and 10 percent from the north. From the south it received no

Score Card Criteria

APC iBall Numeric Microtek

Product availability

96.7

Price-performance

87.8 85.3 84.5 81.4

Channel profitability

89.3

91.3

90.4

91.3

Brand-pull and customer marketing

92.7

87.4

86.7

84.7

Channel marketing and training

84.3

83.7

78.6

77.3

Post-sales support

87.5

89.3

81.3

81.8

Channel policy and management

89.8

91.2

79.1

84.1

Final Score

94.2

93.9

92.1

89.7 88.9 84.9 84.7 *Scores out of 100

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votes. iBall, through a combination of channel schemes and front-end margins, offers the best channel profitability in the PC UPS category. Respondents appreciated iBall’s post-sales support, which is transparent. The warranty policy is mentioned on the bill, and the company replaces the product without asking any questions in the case of any of the issues specified in the bill. iBall was particularly active in terms of channel and customer marketing. It ran customer schemes where it bundled its other peripherals and accessories with the purchase of its UPS. Respondents said that iBall’s TV and print ads are having a positive influence on customers. In regions where it has a presence, iBall has a strong local sales team which interacts regularly with the channel.

Numeric

The company continues to enjoy a strong channel connect in the south and west. While it has improved its coverage in the north to poll more votes from the region compared to 2009, it still lacks any connect in the east. During 2010, Numeric’s channel preference seems to have suffered on two counts—increase in product failures and reduction in the quality of its post-sales support. In H22010 the company launched a new UPS with an appealing design, but it had a number of failures. The failure rate of its batteries was also reported to be higher in 2010 compared to APC and iBall. Respondents complained about the quality of warranty support which they say deteriorated in the last 3-4 months of 2010. Although the company provides onsite warranty, in Class C cities respondents said they had to carry the UPS to the service center


themselves, thus increasing the TAT. Barring these issues, respondents said that Numeric is considered good on price-performance and also offers better channel profitability. Numeric’s products are more effective than APC in terms of managing wide voltage fluctuations experienced in upcountry locations, said respondents.

Survey Demographics Unique votes polled for PC UPS category: 177

North 25%

Microtek

The company suffered in channel preference on two counts—more than normal product failures of one of its fast-moving models, and issues with its post-sales support where major delays in repair and replacement were reported by respondents. Microtek’s Heritage model had product failure issues related to its battery, and several respondents said that as a result they stopped selling the brand. Microtek continues to be strong in the north where it polled more than 50 percent votes. In the west

East 7%

South 25%

West 43% Region

Class A 21% Class B 27%

Class C 52%

Partner 49%

Type of City

and south it polled 23 percent votes each; from the east it got only 4 percent. The company’s post-sales support, which got good scores in 2009, saw significant delays in TAT. Having a strong name in the inverter category helps Microtek in the PC UPS category as well although it

Non-Partner 51%

type of reseller

doesn’t enjoy the same performance and quality perception as APC or Numeric. The company was rated better on channel profitability, and offers higher margins than both Numeric and APC. On channel policies and management the company got higher scores than Numeric. n

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microprocessor

Intel of course

I

ntel retained the crown of the most preferred microprocessor company followed by AMD. Intel polled 85 percent of the total category votes with AMD polling 15 percent. This reflected the market share ratios of the two companies in the category.

Unique votes polled for Microprocessor category: 157 North 18%

Intel

Respondents felt that Intel increased its market leadership over AMD during 2010 largely due to a better priceperformance product portfolio that saw the launch of the new Core i family of processors. However, according to many respondents, while the Core i3 has caught on among the white-box PC channel, Core i5 and Core i7 haven’t fared as expected. The company did well to position its Pentium Dual Core and Core 2 Duo processors at the entry-level which helped system builders in smaller cities to assemble low-cost PCs. Although Intel discontinued with its two distributors, eSys and SES, respondents said that the company informed partners in advance about the move, and ensured a smooth transition without impacting supplies. Intel also strengthened its sub-distribution network under its channel supplier program to improve availability and counter parallel and gray imports. While parallel imports continued to hamper Intel’s channel business, respondents said that the volume of parallel imports has reduced. This also resulted in better MOPs of Intel processors during 2010. Respondents were critical of Intel completely cutting down on their marketing spends, and alleged that its channel marketing program, Intel Inside, is benefiting only a handful of large partners. They believed the MDF program needs to be revised to help deserving small assemblers in smaller cities because they have to put in

Score Card Criteria

Intel AMD

Product availability

95.1

Price-performance

93.3 86.4

Channel profitability

80.1

86.6

Brand-pull and customer marketing

95.2

83.3

Channel marketing and training

91.3

88.6

Post-sales support

84.2

85.6

Channel policy and management

86.5

81.7

Final Score

91.3

89.4 86.2 *Scores out of 100

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Survey Demographics

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East 11%

South 30%

West 41% Region

Class A 19% Class B 23%

Class C 58%

Type of City

Partner 48%

Non-Partner 52%

type of reseller

more effort for market penetration. While respondents noted that Intel improved its postsales support, most respondents in Class C cities said that its support still needs to be streamlined, and that the TAT needs to be reduced. Respondents also reported a lack of clarity in the advanced warranty policy. On channel policy and management, while Intel scored high on processes and systems, what it lacks is a personal touch with partners in Class B and C cities. Respondents said they would prefer more face-to-face interaction with the Intel channel sales team than receiving communications through e-mail.

AMD

While many loyal AMD partners were expecting a lot from the new AMD management, they said that AMD was largely focused on driving OEM-led business during H12010, and began engaging with the system builder channel in a focused way only in H22010. Still, many respondents agreed that the increased OEM marketing had a positive effect on their business as it has improved customer awareness about AMD. The company ran campaigns around its new processors. However, this was limited to only a few large cities and did not benefit a majority of system builders in other Class A cities and smaller cities. While there has been an improvement in the availability of AMD processors and also in the time-to-market of several new processors in Class A and B cities, in Class C cities respondents said that availability is an issue as sub-distributors in these locations don’t stock all AMD processors. They opined that with more than 60 percent of the desktop market in smaller cities, AMD needs to invigorate its distribution strategy in upcountry locations if it wants to increase its channel preference and market share. AMD also needs to do more customer schemes to create awareness and demand. Overall, respondents said AMD’s post-sales support has improved, and the RMA cycle has become faster. n


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MOTHERBOARD

This time it’s Asus

T

he motherboard category has been the most hotly contested category in the Channel Champions Survey. In 2008 Intel was chosen as the most preferred channel vendor, while in 2009 Gigabyte won the crown. In the current rankings, Asus emerged as the most preferred vendor in the category even though it needs to be stated that there’s a very marginal difference between the three brands. Asus’ strength lies in its distributor, Rashi Peripherals, which is not only its exclusive distributor but also its only national ASP. Gigabyte consolidated its position in the market and was viewed as a more aggressive player compared to its peers. Intel, for the first time, secured less votes than Asus. Asus got 30 percent of the votes while Intel won 27 percent followed by Gigabyte’s 23 percent. In the

previous two surveys, Intel got much more votes compared to both the mobo majors. Intel was pushed to the third position for two reasons—because of issues surrounding its warranty support, and because many respondents said they are finding it difficult to get customers to pay extra for the Genuine Intel advantage especially since the vendor has stopped promoting the Genuine Intel branding. MSI, Biostar and Mercury polled less than 10 percent of the category votes and therefore failed to make it to the final list.

Asus

The company did well on parameters such as warranty support, channel policies and management, and product availability. Respondents said that Asus has a stronger brand recall and pull among end-customers compared to Gigabyte, which is still a push-

Score Card Criteria

Asus Gigabyte Intel

Product availability

96.2

Price-performance

96.1 94.8 87.8

Channel profitability

83.6

84.7

83.9

Brand-pull and customer marketing

86.1

81.8

89.8

Channel marketing and training

84.6

89.3

80.3

Post-sales support

87.1

85.8

81.7

Channel policy and management

83.6

80.8

78.1

Final Score

95.1

92.3

88.2 87.5 84.8 *Scores out of 100

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brand in many regions. On the product front, Asus unleashed a number of value models as well as motherboards targeting gamers. During the year it ran special schemes along with AMD to promote the Athlon X4 and Phenom2 X6 processors. Asus has more than 70 percent of the AMD motherboard market share. Asus is perceived to be a better price-performance brand than Gigabyte. Its warranty support was ranked better than that of its counterparts with many respondents praising the introduction of a pickup and drop service in upcountry locations. In cities where Rashi has a branch, respondents reported an average TAT of 2-3 days for repair and replacement, while in upcountry locations the TAT is 8-10 days. One issue which troubled certain sections of the channel was the increase in the failure rate of one of Asus’ fast-moving AMD motherboards though it was eventually addressed. Where the company lacks is channel marketing and training. Compared to Gigabyte, which floated several exciting schemes for T2 and T3 partners, and conducted several multi-city reseller meets and training forums, Asus had no aggressive marketing and training program. Asus scored much better than its competitors in channel policy and management, the credit for which should go to Rashi. Many partners said that Rashi is very good at keeping its commitments in terms of incentive payouts, product availability and Continued on page 42 ä


MOTHERBOARD

ä Continued from page 40

Survey Demographics

warranty support. Rashi is more regular in its communication with Asus’ channels, and also provides price-protection on a case-to-case basis.

Unique votes polled for Motherboard category: 197

Gigabyte

The company launched a series of models in every category from Atom-based bundles for entrylevel PCs to workstation-class motherboards. Gigabyte, which traditionally hasn’t been focused on AMD, also released new models based on the AMD 80GM and 890GX platforms. Respondents noted that Gigabyte offered the widest range in the desktop motherboard market. The company was seen as aggressive in channel marketing and training. It floated several schemes during the year, not just for T2 partners but also for T3 partners. The schemes, coupled with frontend margins, made Gigabyte the most profitable mobo brand for channels to deal in. Respondents said that while the Gigabyte brand perception is improving among end-customers, it is still a push-brand. The company ran multi-city training camps based on different technology themes for partners. It also introduced a direct RMA replacement policy in 2010, which meant that resellers can take the motherboard directly to the national ASP (Accel Frontline) instead of having to route it through the subdistributor or distributor they bill from. This, along with its pick-up and drop service introduced in 2009, led to better scores on warranty support. The complaint is that Gigabyte’s post-sales warranty support is too cumbersome. Also, that the TAT is between 7-8 days in Class A and most Class B cities, and more than

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North 18%

Class A 18%

South 29%

East 11%

Class B 24%

Class C 58%

Partner 48%

Non-Partner 52%

West 42% Region

Type of City

15 days in upcountry locations.

Intel

The company continues to rank high on performance and brandpull. However, respondents said that customers aren’t willing to pay a premium of 15-20 percent for Intel motherboards over Asus and Gigabyte which have grown in brand stature during the past few years. Intel also faced availability issues during 2010. While the discontinuation of its partnerships with eSys and SES didn’t have any impact on its processor supplies, on the motherboard front the move created a supply issue for a couple of months because SES was the largest supplier

Customers aren’t willing to pay a premium of 15-20 percent for Intel over Asus and Gigabyte which have grown in brand stature

type of reseller

of Intel motherboards in the country. Respondents also pointed out that Intel is slow in introducing new platform motherboards compared to both Gigabyte and Asus. Intel revamped its portfolio and classified its motherboard range into six categories—Classic, Essential, Executive, Media, Extreme and Innovation. It enhanced its Flex Plus incentive program providing variable slabs for different categories, and increased the incentive structure for partners who surpass their targets. The move drew mixed responses as some partners said this would hit their incentives while others said the program would help create better partner differentiation. The biggest issue for Intel continues to be its post-sales support. Many Intel partners had one or the other unpleasant episode to narrate. Some respondents questioned why a company as big as Intel can’t fix its post-sales support (which has been a continuing issue) when Asus and Gigabyte have done a much better job with their post-sales support. n


Hard Disk Drive

Four in a row for Seagate

F

or the fourth year in succession, Seagate has been chosen as the most preferred hard disk drive (HDD) vendor; the category includes both internal and external drives. Even so, the company suffered on the overall channel preference scores due to an increase in product failures and warranty support issues. Western Digital (WD) improved its channel preference considerably as compared to the previous year. Hitachi, on the back of its upcountry focus, garnered much more votes than in the previous surveys and made it to the final list. Samsung failed to make it as there were availability issues and higher failure rates; besides, its warranty support deteriorated considerably. Respondents said that because of these reasons as well as the lack of focused GTM and channel policies they stopped dealing in Samsung

HDDs. Interestingly, for the first time, external drives polled more votes than internal drives, indicating that the external drive business is picking up momentum. During 2010, respondents saw an 80 percent increase in their external drive business while the internal drive business grew at an average of less than 15 percent.

Seagate

Seagate is the most widely and evenly distributed brand with a wide range of both internal and external HDDs. It polled the maximum number of votes, enjoys a brand-pull that no other HDD brand does, and respondents said that 60 percent of the customers they sell to ask for Seagate. Compared to other brands, Seagate has more SKUs ranging from 160 GB to 2 TB internal drives, and 320 GB to 1 TB external drives.

Score Card Criteria

Seagate

Western Digital

Hitachi

Product availability

95.2

89.7

87.2

Price-performance

97.9 94.2 93.1

Channel profitability

79.5

82.1

85.9

Brand-pull and customer marketing

91.3

83.8

76.2

Channel marketing and training

75.2

69.8

67.5

Post-sales support

85.5

91.1

93.8

Channel policy and management

86.4

82.7

79.1

Final Score

87.3 84.8 83.3 *Scores out of 100

In 2010, the company suffered in channel preference due to an increase in the failure rates of its internal drives, and also delays in post-sales support in upcountry locations. Several respondents said that the in-warranty failure rate for Seagate went up from less than 2 percent to more than 6-7 percent during 2010. The company’s lack of a pick-up and drop facility in remote areas that don’t have service centers has been highlighted as a big pain-point by upcountry resellers. Both WD and Hitachi provide this facility. As a result, in upcountry locations, resellers have to collect faulty HDDs from customers and send them to the nearest service center, resulting in a TAT of more than 2-3 weeks. Even in Class A and B cities there are complaints of overcrowded service centers resulting in delays in service. Overall, respondents expressed concern over Seagate’s increasing product failure ratio. They opined that the company needs to scale up its post-sale infrastructure and immediately introduce a pick-up and drop facility. Even many longtime partners said it’s high time Seagate introduced an additional service provider and sent more buffer stocks to the service providers for faster replacement. Respondents said that Seagate needs to simplify its online complaint registration process, which, at present, makes it cumbersome for customers to raise the RMA number. Also, more often than not, its toll-free number is engaged. To its credit, its RMA updates through SMS have been appreciated by the channels. On the channel marketing and training parameter, respondents said that Seagate did less channel

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Hard Disk Drive

schemes and training programs than in the previous years. On the external drive front, which is the fastest-growing category, Seagate didn’t offer any customer schemes. On channel policy and management, Seagate ranked higher than its competitors as it has more structured partner programs in terms of incentives and rebates. Partners said that Seagate manages its partner relationships well, and gives things a personal touch by sending flowers and cakes on birthdays and anniversaries, and gifts and sweets for Diwali and other festive occasions.

Western Digital

The company clearly improved its channel preference in 2010 compared to 2009. Its market coverage and product availability increased. In addition, WD was seen as aggressive in the market during 2010. The company polled less than 10 percent votes from Class A cities, which suggests that it either lacks channel connect or has adopted a conscious strategy to focus on Class B and C cities. Respondents said they saw an average increase of 20 percent in their monthly sales of WD, and opined that the company has gained in market share. But the company continues to lack in brand awareness and customer demand, and did nothing to address this issue. Respondents said they expect WD to do more customer schemes in order to improve its brand awareness in the external drive category. WD’s post-sales warranty was rated higher than Seagate’s, and its pick-up and drop service has been effective in winning channel preference in upcountry locations with a much faster TAT compared to Seagate’s. However, its toll-free

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Survey Demographics Unique votes polled for Hard Disk Drive category: 195 North 19% East 10% West 39%

Class A 21%

South 32%

Class B 24%

Region

The company wasn’t in the final

For the first time, external drives polled more votes than internal drives, indicating that the external drive business is picking up momentum

Class C 55%

Type of City

number and online complaint registration system received low scores because they are cumbersome and not customer-friendly. Respondents said that WD’s channel marketing schemes are designed only for sub-distributors and not resellers. Also, the channel engagement is limited to large dealers and not resellers. With Samsung having no clear India strategy, respondents believe that WD has a strong chance of upping its market share further; however, it needs to have policies and engagement aimed at benefiting smaller resellers and not just large partners.

Hitachi

Partner 27% Non-Partner 73%

type of reseller

rankings in 2009, but did well to figure in the list in 2010 on the back of a more aggressive channel strategy. While the company lacks in customer awareness and brandpull compared to both Seagate and WD, it offers better profit margins. Hitachi has a limited product portfolio in the internal drive category, and has no presence in the external drive segment. However, the channel ranked it higher on product quality. Interestingly, Hitachi didn’t get a single vote from Class A cities. The brand is strong in the west and south, and polled only 10 percent of its overall votes from the north and east. Even in the west and south, respondents reported availability issues for certain products because stocks are not immediately available with local sub-distributors. Where Hitachi scored higher than Seagate and WD is on warranty support, with a more streamlined pick-up and drop facility and faster TAT. Respondents said the company lacked channel and customer marketing, which are key to doing well for a brand that has low customer awareness and pull. n


Memory Module

Kingston on top

K

ingston emerged as the most preferred channel company in the memory module category. The company came up with a lower pricing strategy to curb parallel and gray imports, and was successful to a large extent. The Indian brand Zion, winner of the Channel Champion crown in 2009, came a close second. While the company scored better than Kingston on product availability and even postsales support, it lacked in channel marketing, brand awareness, customer marketing and profit margins. Transcend was ranked third, and although the company is regarded as a good quality brand with a strong brand-pull, it continues to suffer due to the lack of a local office in India. A-Data and Dynet were the two brands which got a fair number of votes but failed to make the 10 percent eligibility mark.

Kingston

Last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s number two in channel

preference did well to move to the top spot in 2010. In order to curb the menace of parallel imports and gray products, Kingston reduced the prices of its various memory modules by up to 20 percent. The company also came up with customer promotions offering attractive freebies, thus creating more traction for genuine and authorized products. Respondents said these initiatives helped in curbing parallel imports to a large extent. This led to a consistent MOP, and, coupled with marketing activities and lower parallel imports, improved the overall demand for the brand. It may be recalled that in 2009 Kingston was plagued with parallel imports which had impacted the MOP of its products, brought down channel profitability, and lessened its channel preference. Respondents said that Kingston has the best brand-pull in the memory module market. There

Score Card Criteria

Kingston Zion Transcend

Product availability

88.9

Price-performance

89.9 87.7 78.7

Channel profitability

81.9

78.6

61.6

Brand-pull and customer marketing

81.4

77.2

64.3

Channel marketing and training

78.1

62.3

50.5

Post-sales support

75.1

75.9

60.6

Channel policy and management

74.9

75.8

61.1

Final Score

90.1

74.5

81.5 78.2 64.5 *Scores out of 100

were also praises for its channel engagement. Respondents said that the company strengthened its field teams and emphasized on its local managers meeting partners at regular intervals. The only negative seems to be its post-sales support. While respondents admit that it has improved vastly as compared to 2009, they said that ASPs are not ensuring speedy replacements and that in some cases the TAT was more than 10 days. Respondents added that Kingston needs to increase its buffer stocks with service providers in order to give instant replacements.

Zion

Zion enjoys a good performance perception among the channel because it uses the best-in-class Hynix chips. In 2010 the company improved its coverage in the north by opening offices there. Zionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s post-sales support is rated the best as the company directly provides support, and its response time for replacement and repairs is quicker than other brandsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Respondents pointed out that Zion, with its conservative price policy, did little to counter the aggressive pricing of Kingston and Transcend. As a result, Zion became more expensive than the other two brands which enjoy a better customer-pull. Zion memory modules were reported to be 5-8 percent more expensive than Kingston. This also seems to have had an impact on channel profitability as Zion received lower scores than Kingston. While the company shares information about products and pricing on a regular basis, it lacks in channel and customer schemes. Many respondents rued the lack of any exciting schemes. They opined that Zion lacks customer-pull and

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Memory Module

hence the company ought to conduct more customer marketing and promotion activities.

Survey Demographics

Transcend

Although Transcend is perceived as a good-quality brand and enjoys good brand awareness and customerpull, one thing it needs to do is have a local presence. Most respondents said the lack of an India office is the biggest shortcoming of the module maker, and that most of its issues with regard to distribution, parallel imports and gray products could be better handled by a local presence. The lack of a uniform MOP continues to be an issue. This is caused by a high degree of parallel imports, and also because each regional distributor/importer is quoting his own price in the market. Prices of Transcend modules from

Unique votes polled for Memory Module category: 197 North 18%

South 28%

East 11%

Class B 26%

West 43%

Region

Partner 21%

Class A 21% Class C 53%

Type of City

different authorized sources vary by as much as 15-20 percent, thus giving rise to MOP issues and affecting the profitability of the channel. Respondents said the gray market continues to do good business because Transcendâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s post-sales

Non-Partner 79%

type of reseller

support is not up to the mark. Its national ASP takes a long TAT for replacement, and as a result, many resellers prefer to buy from the gray operators who in most cases of in-warranty failure give instant replacements. n

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