Channel Best-Sellers: Peripherals


BY EDWARD F. MOLTZEN

The document hardware behemoth, Hewlett-Packard, was the best-selling brand in the multifunction printer space last year, but Lexmark was the top-growth best-seller in the segment, according to The NPD Group.

The research firm's Distributor Track, which measures U.S. dollar volume for products sold through certain distributors, including the Global Technology Distribution Council, found that HP logged a 65 percent dollar volume share in the MFP segment last year, slightly down from the 66 percent it registered in 2005. Lexmark, which claimed a 13.1 percent dollar volume share, grew by 2.9 percentage points in a crowded market, more than any other company in the Top 5. Brother, Xerox and Canon rounded out the best-sellers list for this category.

Solution providers say HP's brand recognition is a major force, in addition to its continued investment in the channel. Lexmark, which slumped in 2005 amid a decision to alter its product strategy toward higher-margin hardware, benefited last year from efforts to make its products and programs channel-friendly, they said.

Doug Polkosky, COO of Thomas Computer, an Orlando, Fla.-based solution provider and a partner of both Lexmark and HP, as well as other vendors including Xerox, said HP's brand awareness is helping make it a dominant name in multifunction devices.

Polkosky said Lexmark may have been hurt by its ongoing relationship with Dell. And he said HP has the edge in engaging him as a channel partner. "HP has more feet-on-the-ground support for the local dealer," he said.

Joe Elliot, sales manager at Elliot Services and Peripherals, a Conover, N.C., solution provider that partners with HP and Lexmark, said over the past year Lexmark has made things easier for him. "A lot of the features Lexmark has added to their MFPs, such as security features, PDF-thumb-drive functionality, those features that Lexmark added have probably been the big reasons it's done well," he said. "It's a lot easier for me to work on Lexmarks than HPs," Elliot added. "Lexmark has made it easier and more sales-rep friendly, and given us more incentives to sell Lexmark."

Multifunction Printers
Top 5 Best-Sellers*

  2006
MARKET SHARE
MARKET-SHARE
CHANGE
Hewlett-Packard 65% -1
Lexmark 13.1% +2.9
Brother 7.2% -0.5
Xerox 5.6% +0.3
Canon 4.8% -0.5

* RANKING BASED ON 2006 REVENUE SHARE; HIGHLIGHTED VENDOR GAINED GREATEST SHARE FROM 2005 TO 2006
SOURCE: THE NPD GROUP/DISTRIBUTOR TRACK (INCLUDES GTDC DATA)

Next: Color Laser Printers

BY JENNIFER LAWINSKI

Hewlett-Packard is far and away the best-seller in the color laser printer market, according to The NPD Group/Distributor Track.

The vendor claimed 60.4 percent of the U.S. dollar volume in 2006, up 0.5 percentage points from its 2005 share of 59.9 percent. That was almost triple the market share of second-place Xerox, which held a 22.5 percent share in 2006. The NPD research tracks the dollar volume of color lasers sold through certain distributors, including Global Technology Distribution Council members.

While fourth in the ranking on the basis of market share, printer manufacturer Oki Data was the top-growth best-seller, the data shows. It logged a 0.6 percentage point increase, from 5.7 percent to 6.3 percent. The top five in the color laser printer category were rounded out by Lexmark, with a 6.5 percent share, and Ricoh, with 1.8 percent. Both HP and Ricoh grew by 0.5 percentage points, while Lexmark increased by 0.2 points. Xerox was the only one to lose ground, slipping by 0.8 percentage points.

Solution providers say name recognition and the needs of the small-business market help keep HP in the foreground when selling color laser printers, and Oki Data's pricing has helped it grow.

Bob Cloutier, general manager of ProTech Computer Systems, Denver, said Oki Data's printers have a better price point for his small-business customers, but he has a tough time selling against HP's brand recognition.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to sell peripherals when making hardware sales, such as adding printers to the solution when a customer buys a computer, has been a sales driver for Heartland Technology Solutions, Harlan, Iowa. For Jane Cage, owner and COO, the key to making that sale is keeping the pitch simple.

"For most small-business people, unless you're serving a graphics market, I really don't think our customers compare the quality of one print copy to another," Cage said. "They want to print a report with some color in it or be able to print some marketing materials on demand. Those are the kinds of things they're looking for a printer to do."

Color Laser Printers
Top 5 Best-Sellers*

  2006
MARKET SHARE
MARKET-SHARE
CHANGE
Hewlett-Packard 60.4% +0.5
Xerox 22.5% -0.8
Lexmark 6.5% +0.2
Oki Data 6.3% +0.6
Ricoh 1.8% +0.5

* RANKING BASED ON 2006 REVENUE SHARE; HIGHLIGHTED VENDOR GAINED GREATEST SHARE FROM 2005 TO 2006
SOURCE: THE NPD GROUP/DISTRIBUTOR TRACK (INCLUDES GTDC DATA)

Next: Document Scanners

BY STEVEN BURKE

In the Channel Best-Sellers category for scanners, Fujitsu handily beat all comers with its outstanding products and strong support of the channel.

Fujitsu closed 2006 with 29.1 percent market share on a U.S. dollar volume basis, according to The NPD Group/Distributor Track. The closest competitor was Hewlett-Packard, with 17.9 percent share, followed by Canon with 15.4 percent, Epson with 8.6 percent and Visioneer, which emerged as the fastest-growth best-seller by jumping to 7.8 percent share in 2006, up from 6.6 percent in 2005.

Partners say when it comes to supporting the channel, no company in this segment can match Fujitsu. They say Fujitsu's products, pricing and hand-in-hand partnership with the channel make the vendor best-in-class for document imaging and content management VARs.

"Fujitsu is absolutely at the top of the stack," said Scott Swidersky, director of the Information Systems Division at Quality Associates, a document imaging solution provider in Columbia, Md. "They cover the whole product range from low-volume to high-volume [scanning]. They have great service and business ethics with strong people running the business."

Swidersky said Fujitsu's 5900 model has been a sales generator. What's more, he said, Fujitsu has come through with a strong deal-registration program backed by systems and enforcement mechanisms to ensure that solution providers like Quality Associates won't have their pricing undercut by e-tailers and direct marketers.

The gains for Visioneer, meanwhile, come after the company snatched away Don McMahan, the architect of Fujitsu's channel program, along with one of his top lieutenants, Rusty James. "Visioneer has been a good partner to us as well," Swidersky said. "The Visioneer Patriot product line is very cost-competitive. We maintained the relationship when the senior execs went to Visioneer, and they shared with us their enthusiasm about capturing market share. When anyone comes to you with that much excitement about wanting to do something, why would you not want to be a part of it?"

Document Scanners
Top 5 Best-Sellers*

  2006
MARKET SHARE
MARKET-SHARE
CHANGE
Fujitsu 29.1% -2.5
Hewlett-Packard 17.9% +0.2
Canon 15.4% +0.6
Epson 8.6% +0.1
Visioneer 7.8% +1.2

* RANKING BASED ON 2006 REVENUE SHARE; HIGHLIGHTED VENDOR GAINED GREATEST SHARE FROM 2005 TO 2006
SOURCE: THE NPD GROUP/DISTRIBUTOR TRACK (INCLUDES GTDC DATA)

Next: PC Projectors

BY STEVEN BURKE

When it comes to projectors, no one delivers a better picture for channel partners than InFocus.

The Wilsonville, Ore.-based projector maker finished 2006 with a whopping 32.3 percent of the U.S. dollar volume share for projectors sold through certain distributors, according to data from The NPD Group/Distributor Track. The closest competitor was second-place Epson, which claimed the title of top-growth best-seller by capturing 14.5 percent of the U.S. dollar volume market in 2006, up from 11.5 percent in 2005.

Rounding out the top five were NEC Display, Sony and up-and-comer ViewSonic, which had the second largest gain, shooting up to a 5.6 percent share in 2006 from a 3.4 percent share in 2005, according to the NPD data. ViewSonic has been aggressively pushing the projector product envelope. Earlier this year, the company released the first portable projector with an iPod docking station.

Patrick Derosier, co-owner of The CPU Guys, a Hanson, Mass.-based solution provider, said InFocus' product strength, strong technical support and no-holds-barred channel partnering efforts make the vendor formidable in the projector market. Unlike some of the offerings from rivals, InFocus' products provide robust profit margins for channel partners, he said.

As for Epson, Derosier said the company has made big gains with some impressive offerings, particularly those aimed at the entry-level market.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give Epson an 8," he said. "But InFocus is a 10. They are just a good partner. They do everything right."

John Marks, CEO of JDM Infrastructure, a Chicago-based solution provider, said the most notable part of InFocus' channel program is its aggressive spif offerings aimed at solution provider sales reps.

"InFocus gets a lot of sales-rep mind-share from those spifs," he said.

In an intensely competitive segment of the market, InFocus stands out, differentiating itself from a pack of competitors, Marks added. "They make good-quality products, and my salespeople love them," he said.

PC Projectors
Top 5 Best-Sellers*

  2006
MARKET SHARE
MARKET-SHARE
CHANGE
InFocus 32.3% -1.3
Epson 14.5% +3
NEC Display 13% -0.8
Sony 6% -1.2
ViewSonic 5.6% +2.2

* RANKING BASED ON 2006 REVENUE SHARE; HIGHLIGHTED VENDOR GAINED GREATEST SHARE FROM 2005 TO 2006
SOURCE: THE NPD GROUP/DISTRIBUTOR TRACK (INCLUDES GTDC DATA)

Next: Desktop LCDs (19- to 30- Inch)

BY ELIZABETH DOLSKI

In the desktop LCD category, the difference between which vendor holds the title as best-seller vs. which vendor grew fastest came down to technical vs. financial considerations.

According to data from The NPD Group/Distributor Track, NEC Display Solutions came out on top for the former category, which focused on LCDs between 19 and 30 inches. NEC claimed 24.9 percent of the U.S. revenue share, measured in terms of U.S. dollar volume generated through certain distributors, including members of the Global Technology Distribution Council.

Partners said one major reason is simply an excellent product. "They're one of the inventors, to start with," said John Samborski, CEO of Arlington Heights, Ill.-based Ace Computers.

"[They have] always been ahead of the crowd as far as quality and technology. And they have been very proactive in having channel programs that people are interested in selling in."

Still, NEC Display slipped in terms of share percentage points for the year, losing almost as much ground as that gained by the No. 2 best-seller, ViewSonic, which grew 2.6 percentage points to 19.6 percent share.

Some partners attribute ViewSonic's growth to well-received changes in its channel policies, such as the ViewSonic Access program.

"The reason we converted the bulk of our business over to ViewSonic is [because it] has a strong partner program," said Steve Shark, vice president of sales and marketing at DakTech Computers, Fargo, N.D. "They're very much more focused on customer service than any other vendor," he said.

Of special note was Hewlett-Packard, which came in a close second in market-share growth, somewhat surprising considering it doesn't exclusively sell desktop displays. Solution providers and industry experts cited the vendor's attractive attach-rate incentives.

"The PC business is doing extremely well, [and] most of [HP's] displays are sold as part of bundles," said Rhoda Alexander, director of monitor research at iSuppli.

Desktop LCDs (19- to 30-Inch)
Top 5 Best-Sellers*

  2006
MARKET SHARE
MARKET-SHARE
CHANGE
NEC Display 24.9% -2.6
ViewSonic 19.6% +2.6
Samsung 13.4% +1.4
Hewlett-Packard 11.4% +2.4
Acer 7.95% +1.0

* RANKING BASED ON 2006 REVENUE SHARE; HIGHLIGHTED VENDOR GAINED GREATEST SHARE FROM 2005 TO 2006
SOURCE: THE NPD GROUP/DISTRIBUTOR TRACK (INCLUDES GTDC DATA)

Next: UPSes

BY JENNIFER LAWINSKI

Whether for PCs, servers or an entire data center, UPS devices from American Power Conversion are the bestselling in the market.

Data from The NPD Group/Distributor Track pegged APC's U.S. dollar volume share for power supplies sold through distributors at 80.7 percent in 2006, up from 79.7 percent in 2005. The vendor was also the top growth best-seller for this category, increasing its share by 1 percentage point. Second-place vendor Tripp Lite grew 0.7 percentage points between 2005 and 2006, from 7 percent to 7.7 percent of the market.

Rounding out the Top 5 best-sellers were Powerware, with a 3.5 percent share; power-related products from IBM, with a 2.6 percent share; and Belkin, with a 1.2 percent share. The NPD/Distributor Track monitors sales through certain distributors, including members of the Global Technology Distribution Council.

Paul Hays, president of Athens Technology Partners, Athens, Ga., said APC's stature comes down to product excellence. "It's because of two things, one is the technology behind it and the second thing is they stand behind their warranty," he said. When a squirrel jumped onto the wires leading into an Athens customer's building, an APC surge protector exploded, bearing the brunt of a 44,000-volt surge. The computers connected to it were unharmed, but the device was destroyed. APC was quick to replace the device, he said.

Eric Winterhalder, president of ETL Solutions, a San Diego-based VAR and consulting company, echoes Hays' assessment of APC's products.

"They're the gold standard in the industry of power conversion conditioning. There are several other players, like Tripp Lite, but in terms of quality of equipment in general I think APC is the leader," he said.

The growing prevalence of data centers has most likely spurred growth for APC, as well as the simple fact that it has been in the market for some time. "Their marketing at least in the last year or so has been driven pretty heavily on that end from what I can see, on data center infrastructure and that sort of thing," he said.

UPSes
Top 5 Best-Sellers*

  2006
MARKET SHARE
MARKET-SHARE
CHANGE
APC 80.7% +1
Tripp Lite 7.7% +0.7
Powerware 3.5% -0.8
IBM 2.6% -1.4
Belkin 1.2% +0.2

* RANKING BASED ON 2006 REVENUE SHARE; HIGHLIGHTED VENDOR GAINED GREATEST SHARE FROM 2005 TO 2006
SOURCE: THE NPD GROUP/DISTRIBUTOR TRACK (INCLUDES GTDC DATA)