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Synnex/New Age ‘Inspire’ At Annual Conference

Greenville, S.C. – Hundreds of dealers, resellers and vendors converged here this week at Synnex’s 2014 National Conference to share the latest and greatest in information and emerging technologies.

The three-day event, hosted by the global IT distributor and commercial services provider, packed in seminars, product trainings, keynote addresses and a trade show, as well as performances by the Goo Goo Dolls and Cheap Trick.

The conference also dovetailed with the annual Dealer Summit by distributor New Age Electronics, Synnex’s consumer products arm. (Click here for a slideshow of highlights.)

 Both conferences carried the theme of “Inspire,” which underscored the plethora of emerging-tech products now hitting the market and the opportunities they can provide. Indeed, in his opening remarks, Synnex president/CEO Kevin Murai forecasted “exploding growth in the coming years” for wearables, home automation and home healthcare, and said Internet of Everything (IoT) devices will become a $26 billion market by 2020, a 30-fold increase from 2009.

Beyond product sales, IOT usage can provide retailers with invaluable customer data that could increase their operating margins by more than 60 percent if properly collected and analyzed, he said.

In a separate keynote, New Age president Fred Towns urged customers to partake in emerging categories like fitness bands, smartwatches, phablets and plug-and-play home automation, which promise to be “superhot” for the holidays. Towns’ conviction is reflected in his creation of a separate Emerging Technology group within New Age, which carries a growing raft of new-tech startups.

Attendees were able to preview and demo technologies both new and current in a Solutions Pavilion featuring product displays by more than 150 of the distributors’ vendors.

Other conference highlights included a vendor panel hosted by TWICE senior editor Alan Wolf and featuring Towns; Intel Americas corporate VP/general manager CJ Bruno; Stephanie Dismore, VP/general manager of HP’s U.S. consumer business; James Melendez, consumer sales and product management director of Asus North America; Kevin Tillman, senior research analyst at the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA); and Andy Tarczon, senior VP of Meta Watch.

Topics included the impact of emerging technologies on legacy segments like PCs and tablets; channel management; and the importance of brick-and-mortar in vendors’ go-to-market strategies.

In an earlier keynote, Intel’s Bruno said innovations like two-in-one notebooks and his company’s forthcoming Core M vPro chip, which promises seven-hour battery life and a 19 percent boost in speed, will keep the PC category vital, and that Intel’s goal in tablets this year is to have a hand in 40 million units.

In a separate address, HP’s Dion Weisler, printing and personal systems executive VP, said the company recently enjoyed its best quarter in decades, and declared: “The PC is not dead; printing is not dead. The core is alive and well.”

Weisler said his $60 billion printing and personal systems unit represents 85 percent of HP’s total revenue and is expected to grow at a 3 percent annual clip through 2016. To help fuel that growth, the company is entering new categories like mobile, where it is introducing its first line of HP-branded phablets. First out of the gate is a 6-inch, quad-core, dual-SIM 4G device called the HP Slate 6 Voice Tab, which will retail for $299 unlocked and comes with 250MB per month of free data for life over the AT&T or T-Mobile networks.

In his own address, Lenovo North America president Jay Parker claimed market share dominance in two-in-one devices, and said the traditional business-channel supplier is now targeting consumers and small businesses in the U.S., which represents a $6 billion market with 6,000 retail stores.

Elsewhere on the agenda, former space shuttle commander Mark Kelly delivered an inspirational address that drew from the ongoing gunshot recovery of his wife, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and his experiences as a combat pilot in the Gulf War.

The conference, which drew some 1,800 attendees in total to the TD Convention Center here in Synnex’s headquarters town, including contingents from Canada and Japan, concludes tonight with a performance by the Goo Goo Dolls. Synnex is also holding a charity event Saturday night featuring headliner Cheap Trick.