Ripples In Sony's Channel Have Partners Watching

Joe Natale, who oversaw distribution and channel strategy for Sony's San Diego-based IT products unit, and Greg Taylor, who was senior vice president of Sony's North American reseller channel, have left the company. A Sony spokeswoman declined to give any information about their departures.

Charting The Changes

Sony's recent executive moves


>> Key channel executives Joe Natale and Greg Taylor have left the company.
>> John Scarcella will now oversee B2B sales, and Patrick Vogt will direct business operations, including direct/indirect sales.
>> Howard Stringer, whose background is in broadcasting and other media, last week was named CEO of Sony Corp.

Sony's business-to-business sales have been consolidated under John Scarcella, who was president of the business and professional products unit, the spokeswoman said. In addition, Patrick Vogt will oversee business operations of the group, including direct and indirect sales, she said. Vogt formerly was senior vice president and senior general manager for Sony Electronics eSolutions.

Sony channel partners said the vendor hasn't notified them of any changes in its channel organization or strategy, but individual Sony channel representatives have been working as if it were business as usual.

"Our rep has done a pretty decent job," said Andrew Krantz, senior account manager at Westwood Computer, a solution provider in Springfield, N.J. Yet any move by Sony to boost its direct sales wouldn't be viewed kindly, he added. "As a reseller, I wouldn't like it," he said.

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Last year, Sony launched a new IT reseller portal for its 40,000 registered solution providers in an attempt to improve communication and efficiency with the channel. The portal offers solution providers access to program and product information about Sony's full IT lineup in North America, from Vaio laptops to optical drives to displays. Earlier this year, Sony won CRN's Channel Champions "Rookie of the Year" award, recognizing its No. 1 finish in a category.

Taylor oversaw the expansion of Sony's channel efforts last year, and VARs gave Natale much credit for building a broad product line and making it more accessible for channel partners. Sony, though, has been locked in bruising competition—especially on the pricing front—with vendors such as Acer and Samsung, which have similar product lines.

Sony's top management also has changed. Last week, Howard Stringer was named Sony Corp. CEO. His background is in broadcasting and media, rather than IT or consumer electronics.