Socket Mobile Launches New Handheld, Channel Program

The new VIP and SocketCare channel programs mark a strategic shift for Socket Mobile, which had previously brought its devices to market through major distributors, said Peter Phillips, VP of marketing for the Newark, Calif.-headquartered vendor. Devices now available to channel partners include the new SoMo 650, the Cordless Hand Scanner Series 7 and the Cordless Ring Scanner Series 9, with one- or three-year service and repair warranties available for the devices under the SocketCare Service Program.

"We'd always gone through distribution with full products, but we had a very basic channel program in place with components. With the launch of the 650, we took it as an opportunity to reshape our channel partner program. This allows us to transition from a peripherals company to a product company," Phillips said.

The expansion of its channel program couldn't have come soon enough, said Audie Hoffman, VP of sales and business development for Mobitor, a Socket Mobile channel partner. Mobitor is a San Ramon, Calif.-based developer of mobile and Web-based applications for CRM, field force automation and sales force operations servicing Fortune 500 enterprises such as AIG and Frito-Lay.

"I think this is what they should have done a long time ago. The way they used to operate was very complicated, and often at cross-purposes with what we were trying to develop, to the solutions we were trying to provide," Hoffman said.

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"Frankly, because of the intricacies of their distribution channel, I was sometimes nervous buying [components] from them."

Phillips agreed, saying his company's channel partners had sometimes run into grief trying to source components from other vendors that Socket Mobile didn't provide.

"But now the integration of our hardware is going to be much easier for our reseller partners, because all the hardware comes from us for their mobile solutions. Now they won't have to go to a Dell or somebody else for the other components," he said.

The VIP channel program consists of three tiers " Gold, Silver and Bronze, as well as a fourth tier for independent software vendors with minimal touch on hardware. Gold VIP partners with $1 million in annual revenues receive 6 percent off distributor pricing, a 50 percent demo discount and other incentives, Silver partners ($500,000 in revenues) get 3 percent and 40 percent, and Bronze partners ($250,000) get straight distributor pricing and 30 percent demo discounts.

A lightweight, PDA-sized device featuring a Windows Mobile 5.0 OS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and a 624 MHz processor, the SoMo 650 was designed for business users who are mobile throughout the workday, Phillips said.

"There seemed to be a void in the marketplace between consumer devices and industrial devices. So we developed the SoMo 650 to hit that market," he said.