For pure spectacle and showmanship, you’ll never beat the trade show goliaths of CeBIT, CES and Computex. The hoards of exhibitors and large-scale, flashy stands make for a hugely comprehensive and, let’s face it, fun snapshot of the technology trade. But the sheer scale of them can occasionally provide a barrier in itself. Since most buyers, distribution bosses and retailers will be focussed on a particular territory, massive-scale international extravaganzas aren’t always the best place to track down the individual you can actually do business with.
This is where events like Retail Vision, Channel Expo and Distree come into their own – smaller events which facilitate more tightly focused meetings between decision makers in the IT trade. Distree XXL, which took place in the notoriously cash-ridden city of Monte Carlo last month, is designed to represent the entire EMEA IT distribution channel. On the first day, 850 senior executives from 65 countries descended on the expansive Fairmont Hotel in the centre of town, with 4,500 one-to-one meetings having been set up for the event in total.
While these private meetings are certainly the focus of the show, there was also an exhibition hall where vendors were able to demonstrate new products, looking to attract and develop new business.
Farouk Hemraj, CEO at Distree Events, tells us: “Distree XXL 2010 proved to be a hugely successful event once again. With representatives from 130 vendors, more than 350 distributors, and the introduction of e-tailers to the delegate mix, the initial feedback from attendees has been overwhelmingly positive.
“As the event organiser, we focus on a measure called ‘return on time invested’ (ROTI) when we assess the value that delegates extract from attending Distree XXL. The sheer number of vendors looking to open up new channels – coupled with a powerful conference programme featuring dozens of channel analysts, consultants and research houses – helped us ensures that we met our ROTI targets at Distree XXL 2010.”
In terms of future events, details are currently thin on the ground, but it looks as though there will be some changes afoot for the next occasion. “We learn from every event we organise and will continue to invest in our web platform and business processes to ensure that Distree XXL remains the number one event for the EMEA distribution channel. We will listen carefully to all the feedback we receive regarding Distree XXL 2010 and already have some exciting development plans for the year ahead.”
Gigabyte was previewing what it calls the ‘mobility empowerment’ initiative – essentially a combination netbook and dock, which it says is designed to bridge the gap between desktops and laptops. The most striking example of this technology was a docking station loaded with a Geforce GT220 graphics card, which significantly boosts the graphics capability of an average laptop while it is connected. Gigabyte is currently in discussions with distributors in the UK, and it is expected to be available within the next couple of months.
Vendor Zotac was showcasing its small form factor dual-core Mini-PCs, the first of which launched in October, with four new models expected this year. The devices are particularly customisable for retailers, presenting decent margin opportunities. It is essentially an extremely slimmed down base unit and can be plugged into a TV or monitor. The basic model retails for around £229, though even cheaper versions are available as ‘starter kits’.
Arctic Cooling was displaying its widening product range with its foray into the gaming console market. The Arctic GCM is a handheld console aimed at four to ten-year-olds and comes preloaded with 80 games built in. It will retail at around €40, and will be available this month through EntaTech. The 32-bit Arctic GC Pro console is more akin to the Nintendo Wii, plugging into the TV and utilising motion-sensing controllers. It comes loaded with 48 games and, crucially, will also retail for €40.
Taking pride of place at the Hannspree stand was a 28-inch novelty apple-shaped TV, which was spearheading a wide range of similar devices in various animal or fruit shapes. It was also showcasing its extensive range of photo frames, notebooks and monitors.
Sony concentrated on a number of its recent optical drives, including the BD-5730S Blu-ray burner. External and internal read and write capable devices were also on display.
Exspect highlighted several of its key iPod and iPhone speaker docks, iPod cases and FM transmitters.
There were also a number of brands looking to crack the UK market for the first time by snapping distributor deals. Hedy is currently trying to find disties in the UK market with its barebones netbook (currently in the prototype stage) and all-in-one PC ranges. It has quite a broad portfolio including laptop bags and small form factor mobile phones. Polish firm Media-Tech has a range of computer accessories it was looking to spread to Western Europe, as were fellow accessory vendor Acme, and laptop and camera bag firm Sumdex.
AND THE AWARD GOES TO…
The event drew to a close with the EMEA Channel Academy Awards, held in the Chapiteau de Fontvielle in Monaco. The ceremony represented the European industry as whole, even if the finalists did not have a large presence at Distree XXL. The winners were:
VENDOR OF THE YEAR
Accessories – Microsoft
Components – Western Digital
Desktop/Notebook – Asus
Digital Lifestyle – Apple
Peripherals – Samsung
Printing – HP
Software – Microsoft
Channel Initiative – Promate
DISTRIBUTOR OF THE YEAR
Africa – Ingram Micro
Central and Eastern Europe – ABC Data
DACH – Actebis
Middle East and North Africa – Draw between Aptec and Redington Gulf
Northern Europe – GNT
Russia and CIS – Elko
South East Europe – Arena
Southern Europe – Esprinet
UK and Ireland – Westcoast
Channel Initiative – Ingram Micro