The Birmingham NEC closed its doors on Channel Expo for the last time last month, with the show set to move to the London Olympia for 2010. One of the key changes to this year's format was the increase in the 'educational' aspect of the show, which took the form of an increased number of keynote speeches and presentations about the economy and how best to stay afloat. Elsewhere, the core purpose of the show remained the varied range of exhibitor stands.
Incisive Media's channel publisher Mark Burton said: "The feedback we received this year has been extremely encouraging, both from our visitors and exhibitors. We were particularly pleased with how both our theatres were received.
"The CRN theatre was well attended on both days and delivered a good mix of speakers offering strategic, topical and businessfocused advice that resellers can now take back and implement in their businesses. The Technology theatre proved once again that our audience is hungry to see the latest products from the top vendors. Overall, the show is moving in the right direction and we're confident of delivering an even better Channel Expo in 2010."
Here's a run down of some of the show's highlights…
MICROSOFT – The computing giant was showing a range of wireless peripherals such as keyboards and mice, and a variety of high definition webcams. "It's been a good show and we had a constant flow of visitors," said Microsoft's John Horton. "The Channel Expo is a great opportunity to mingle with the people who really make a difference. Talking to the resellers and retailers here is a good way of indirectly engaging with the end consumer."
ACER – The vendor used Channel Expo to showcase its business and consumer product lines, as it continues its multi-brand approach to the market. It was showing a range of small form devices for the consumer and business segments including its compact Veriton professional desktop range and the new Timeline series.
DELL – With one of the largest stands at this year's show, Dell was out in force to promote the benefits of its PartnerDirect programme to the assembled resellers. With five portals covering everything from printing to servers, the vendor was out to show that it could provide solutions for almost any sector.
INTEL – On the firm's stand, the high end Novatech X1 gaming laptop was being exhibited for the first time. Elsewhere on show was the £10,000 Great White Shark desktop gaming rig, which comes loaded with no less than three graphics cards, and the touch screen Asus Eee Top PC was showing off the capabilities of the low cost Atom processor.
LOGITECH – The firm used the show to push its consumer electronics business, an area it is looking to significantly increase in future. A number of its leading products were on display, including the wireless streaming Squeeze Box, the G35 7.1 surround sound Dolby headset, and new Wii accessories. Distribution account manager Gary Read told us: "Consumer electronics is a big growth market for us. We're more focussed on it than we have ever been."
ENTA – The distributor hosted vendor displays from Swann, Shuttle, Kingston, Gameward, Freecom, Kaspersky and Microsoft. The firm enjoyed a great deal of activity around its stand, particularly for its online order service.
BULLGUARD – On the stand, designed to reflect the company's new Reseller Lounge, visitors got a chance to relax in comfy chairs. BullGuard's UK sales director Alan Case said: "All things considered, we had a good Channel Expo. Our offers went down well with the channel, who thanked us by placing a lot of orders. We also signed up a satisfying number of new accounts, and had a great deal of enlightening talks with the show visitors." The firm was pushing its BullGuard Internet Security 8.5 and BullGuard Gamer's Edition.
INGRAM MICRO – The distributor had over ten of the largest names in the channel exhibiting on its stand, including Microsoft, Blackberry, Acer, Symantec, D-Link, Logitech, Fujitsu and Toshiba. The distributor praised the event, claiming it has retained its importance, despite some retailers and resellers questioning the cost of attending during the recession.
MERONCOURT – Meroncourt has bolstered its gaming peripherals range, with the launch of the Roccat Kave headset and the Vire earphone line – both of which got their UK debut at Channel Expo. The items boost the firm's existing range, which it says has been going from strength to strength. This is thanks to recent additions such as the Mionix mouse range, which had a packaging design overhaul in time for the show.
OKI – Printer vendor Oki was showing a number of new products including the Anoto pen, which received a great reception at the BETT show, as well as more traditional offerings such as MFDs and sharepoint-integrated devices. The end result is a broad end-to-end solution for data management and print solutions.
TOMTOM – GPS vendor TomTom was showing off its integrated Live Services, which feature in some of its newer devices, including the XL and Go series. Live Services is a subscription-based model, which can be tested with a three month free trial, and offers fuel price checks, 'Road Angel' mobile camera notifications, links to Google Maps data, weather forecasts and the HD traffic service with IQ routing.
WIDGET – The distributor was showcasing a number of products that it holds exclusive UK distribution rights for, including the Flip Mino HD video camera, Monster Beats headphones by Dr. Dre, the BE electronic book reader, which offers broader compatibility than its rivals and the executive CardScan business card reader and database.
RICOH – Ricoh was displaying its range of eco friendly and pay-as-you-go print devices. While traditional printers offer a low price on the unit, with extra margin from consumables, the growth of third party manufacturers have squeezed those margins even tighter. Ricoh's business model sees end-users supplied with a unit and when the consumables are exhausted, the unit is replaced. It claims that its eco-printer offers cleaner technology and greater energy efficiency.
KYOCERA – Kyocera showcased its range of printers aimed at the small business segment, including its FS- 2020D, which is capable of printing up to 35 pages per minute with a 1200 dpi resolution.
KRAUN – The Italian distributor CDC is looking to establish a foothold in the UK market with its Kraun brand of colourful PC accessories. It comes with an extensive portfolio of over 650 products, covering a wide range of hardware including peripherals, routers, components and digital photo frames.
XEROX – Xerox was showcasing some of its newer products including solid ink technology and its extendable interface platform for scanning and file management. "We've had a fair response," said Xerox's Raag Hazarike. "We're here to highlight our reseller programme. We've had leads from around 50 resellers, which is around the number we were looking to get."
DATAFORT – Datafort was using Channel Expo to raise its profile and recruit partners for its tiered reseller program. "It's been a very good show," said Datafort's business development manager Marcie Terman. "Contacts are up 30 per cent on last year's show and although the turnout has been lower, the level of professionalism and the seriousness of our leads is considerably higher."
REDSTONE – T-Mobile and Blackberry distributor Redstone used this year's Channel Expo to boost awareness within the reseller community of its services and how they can take advantage of the convergence between the telecoms and IT channels. In particular, it was focusing on those resellers interested in how to approach the telecoms sector.
WASP – Inventory solutions provider Wasp had another successful Channel Expo, with managing director Hugh Furness telling PCR that it had drummed up a lot of interest from resellers who might not have considered IM as a viable product line to carry. Most of the attention was focused on its mid-to-high end range of products.
Y3K – Security camera vendor Y3K was showing off its range of IP security products, as well as a few other novel devices. Its staple product range, which includes entry level and mid range security cameras that utilise IP to communicate with recording devices was performing particularly well, while its spy-pen was also a major attraction amongst resellers.
CABLES TO GO – The US vendor used this year's show to launch into the UK channel, with president Bill Diederich saying that the company had had a "fantastic response from resellers." The company, which is one of the leading cable vendors in the US, said that its aim for the show had been to develop contact with resellers that would help it "become the go-to dealer for any sort of [cabling] solution."
RET UK – The POWERSQUARED brand was at the centre of RET UK's stand, with its new slimline power packs proving particularly popular amongst resellers looking for affordable third party laptop chargers.
OPAL TELECOM – With a live contract signing with IT telecoms distributor DMSL stealing the limelight on the first day, Carphone Warehouse's B2B arm was out to sign up as many resellers to its high-speed next gen broadband network. Speaking to PCR, director of wholesale Andrew Hollingworth said: "We've spent a lot of money creating our next generation broadband network, offering true value to our business customers. We see the IT channel as the ideal route to expand the offering to an even greater volume of customers."
DMSL – Based on the PCA stand, IT and telecoms distributor DMSL was out to help resellers looking to break into the broadband resale market not just find the ideal products for them, but to also get a better understand of the dynamics between the two markets.
PSA PARTS – was showing its full range of laptop batteries, camera battery packs, full range of Duracell products, one hour camera chargers and its new 'smallest ever' USB cigarette lighter.