Computex: Custom Whitebook Player Eyes U.S. Market

Taipei-based Anadem Information aims to expand its U.S. whitebook business -- now handled by FOSA Computer, its South Plainfield, N.J., office -- into a whitebook "aggregator" by offering custom notebooks based on the three ODMs in Intel's "Verified by Intel" program, along with two other vendors.

FOSA's Simon Lo and Anadem's Sonia Chiu show two examples of custom covers that Anadem can offer on whitebooks.

Under the Verified By Intel program, Taiwan-based ODMs Quanta, Compal, and Asustek make built-to-order whitebooks using common components, much the same way that desktop PCs have standardized components.

Anadem works with the three ODMs, plus Taiwan-based ECS and Mitac, to offer Asia-Pacific customers a one-stop source of custom notebooks from the five vendors, along with marketing and technical services, said Sonia Chiu, Anadem's director of marketing and sales.

Now Anadem wants to offer the same products and services in the United States, according to Chiu. "Intel is discussing with Anadem for us to do this support in the U.S.," she said. "With the whitebook market, service is challenging. So Intel is talking to us about our ability to do support and sales in the U.S. The U.S. market is quite competitive."

Sponsored post

Unlike distributors such as Synnex and ASI, which take orders for custom notebooks on behalf of the ODMs but offer little in the way of service, Anadem offers a full range of services, Chiu noted. "We don't just collect the order," she said. "We help with marketing, support and services like RMA [return merchandise authorization]. We don't just do logistics."

Simon Lo, branch manager for FOSA, said his company has been doing a similar business in the U.S. with notebooks sold under the FOSA brand, but not with whitebooks. "We want to do the whitebooks going forward," he said.

Anadem currently allows Asia-Pacific customers to provide their specific system requirements and then works with them to determine the best-matching model from its five ODM partners, Lo said.

The minimum order quantity is 50 units in a one-time deal. "We support customers with barebones, and they can add their own CPU, memor, and hard drive if they have a better source than us, or we can do the whole package," Lo said.

The customization includes standard or customer-provided custom cover art, Chiu said. Art can be a self-adhesive film printed with a bubble-jet printer, or it could be made of plastic, metal or even leather.

"One customer in Indonesia purchased one unit with a cover made of crystal and one with a cover made of gold," Chiu said. "It then sold the two to the highest bidders."

Erik Stromquist, executive vice president of CTL, a Portland, Ore.-based system builder that offers whitebooks in partnership with Compal, said there's definitely an opportunity for Anadem to bring its aggregation model to the United States, though it won't be easy.

"Compal has their own distribution channel in the U.S. So do other whitebook suppliers. We're the go-to guys for Quanta," Stromquist said. "If customers want access to custom notebooks, they have a channel. The U.S. is reasonable well-served."

Chiu and Lo couldn't give a timetable for when Anadem would start offering its aggregation services in the United States. But they said they hope to bring that model to customers in Latin America and Europe as well.