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Philips Expands B2B Plans With An Eye Toward SO/HO

Philips Electronics’ on-going reorganization to place a greater emphasis on the business-to-business market will see the company flood the reseller and VAR channels with new products in 2003, with the strategy that some of these products will come into the retail arena in 2004 for the SO/HO market.

Philips’ focus on the enterprise side of the business has resulted in a marked shift in its product mix. Previously, about 90 percent of its branded and OEM computer products were targeted at the retail market, said Matt Gill, Philips’ senior VP/general manager of business solutions. Now the ratio is closer to 60 percent consumer and 40 percent business.

“We are pushing the product offering to appeal to large business and SO/HO,” said Gill, adding that the primary focus for next year will be on wide-format LCD and plasma displays, storage and connectivity devices for businesses.

However, he tempered this remark saying many of the business products to be introduced into the reseller and VAR channels in 2003 will work their way into retail where many small and home business owners make the majority of their purchases. Also, much of the advanced technology initially rolled out with business-class products will end up in consumer-based products.

Philips showed an array of products here at Comdex/Fall that will head into the business and consumer markets. In the display category, Michael Gay, the firm’s director of marketing, PC peripherals, said Philips is pushing its industrial design to new levels with the idea of attracting the SoHo customers that shop in the office superstores.

Some of the new professional-level displays on hand were the 17-inch 170W wide screen LCD featuring a 16 by 9-inch aspect ratio. It will ship this month with a $1,700 suggested retail and will be followed in May by a 23-inch version, the 230W.

Philips also demonstrated its Light Frame 3 display technology, which automatically increases the brightness on video and images as they are opened on the display, Gay said. Light Frame will first be available in the 15-inch 150P shipping in March and the 18-inch 180P that will ship later in 2003. Pricing was not available. In the home theater display category Philips will ship the LC6321 LCD projector in January with an expected $2,000 street price.

Gay said innovations such as Light Frame should help re-energize the display category, which he described as, “the sometimes forgotten component in the PC system.”

In the storage area Philips unveiled the JR32CDRW Jack Rabbit, an external, portable DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive with 32x write, 10x rewrite and 40x read speeds. It will ship in February with a suggested retail in the $310 range. The drive has a USB 2.0 interface.

Philips has high hopes for the external drive market this year, Gay said.

Another area Philips will concentrate on is its brand, he said.