Slide Show: State Of Technology: Peripherals

Survey respondents were asked how their peripherals selling habits have changed over the last year. As VARs focus more on providing full solutions—including services—nearly 40 percent of VARs said they have customers fulfill the products themselves.

As the commoditization occurs, it's another reason for VARs to focus more on services and full solutions.

VARs believe bundling products can lead to more revenue, while new customer opportunities in the small business market far outpaced new opportunities in the midmarket and enterprise.

In summary, VAR said seven of the 11 product categories were easier to sell in 2007 than the previous year.

ViewSonic was the consensus top choice among display vendors, finishing first in profitability and most sold.

Seagate was the clear choice for survey respondents in this product category.

InFocus and ViewSonic made all the right moves in 2007 with survey respondents.

More than 80 percent of respondents said they recommended APC, more than twice as much as its nearest competitor and the highest percentage in any category.

Seventy percent of VARs sell HP printers. The next-closest competitor was sold by 23 percent of respondents.

The printers/scanners category offered three product lines chosen by solution providers as especially profitable. Each of the other four product categories offered only one line with a net percentage of more than 20 percent.

Network Integrators (43.6 percent) chose DMRs as the greatest source of competition more than any other type of VAR.

Average selling prices declined in all categories during 2007, but power protection products and networked copiers offered VARs the most stable pricing throughout the year.

As services attachment becomes more important to VARs selling peripherals, these product lines offered the greatest attach opportunities.

When it comes to displays, there are several ways solution providers can position themselves for success and growth, said Dan Schwab, vice president of marketing at D&H Distributing Inc., Harrisburg, Pa. "One nice thing about the display market that has created an opportunity for resellers is wide format," Schwab said. "People, from home usage, are now used to wide format. More and more people at work like the wide format as well."

Solution providers are also getting more green. When asked to select from a list of reasons for choosing a printer or scanner, a whopping 88 percent listed "energy savings/'green' technology." In previous years, the issue was barely noticed.

Efficiency, Energy Star ratings and environmental friendliness are components of the solution approach that VARs have increasingly embraced the past couple of years.

The power supply space was among the most turbulent in 2007, as Schneider Electric acquired American Power Conversion Corp. and energy prices worldwide caused IT planners to rethink strategies for their energy and efficiency needs.

Power protection in small and midsize businesses has gone from afterthought to priority, given the number of catastrophes worldwide in recent years, as well as increases in energy costs and lower pricing segmentwide.

Solution providers listed ViewSonic as the projector vendor whose brand they would be most willing to recommend, followed closely by InFocus, equal numbers for Samsung and NEC Mitsubishi Electric, Toshiba America Inc., Epson, HP and BenQ America Corp. During the past year, the projector segment was marked by strong moves by vendors toward increasingly smaller and more mobile form factors—a trend that doesn't appear ready to slow down during the coming 12 months.

In the first year in the survey, desktop external storage from manufacturers including Seagate Technology LLC, Scotts Valley, Calif., and Western Digital Corp., Lake Forest, Calif., have shown themselves to be a factor. Almost two-thirds of solution providers say the products are easier to sell than a year ago, and almost three in four say the capacities now offered are a key factor in how they deliver the products.