Looking back

With 2005 drawing to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the news, trends and events that shaped Middle East channel development during the last 12 months. In the first of our two-part eChannel review of the year, we pull together the best stories from the first half of the year.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  December 21, 2005

With 2005 drawing to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the news, trends and events that shaped Middle East channel development during the last 12 months. In the first of our two-part eChannel review of the year, we pull together the best stories from the first half of the year.

January: Lenovo launches

We reported on the channel implications of IBM’s decision to sell off its PC division to Lenovo. The deal restructured the global A-brand PC landscape and also cemented the Far East as the global manufacturing hub for IT products. Also filling column inches was the news that Joe Devassy, SMS&P manager at Microsoft Gulf had left the company. Acer revealed that it was mulling over launching a local assembly arm in Saudi, but a year later has still not made a definitive move.

February: HP creates IPSG unit

Phase one of HP’s almost continuous restructuring exercise in 2005 made the headlines in February, as Carly Fiorina — in one of her last acts as CEO at HP — decided to merge IPG and PSG into a single entity. Fiorina didn’t last long and neither did IPSG come to think of it. Microsoft’s 2005 channel saga rumbled on as the vendor took legal action against UK reseller Itac for sourcing grey software from the Middle East. That saga was set to rumble on for some time.

March: The A-Team arrives

Microsoft once again hit the headlines as it flew in a crack team of auditors (The A-Team) into the region to pore over the books of its major distribution partners. Almasa continued to boost its vendor portfolio, signing a deal with Russian security software vendor Kaspersky to sell its solutions in the Middle East. Trend Micro also struck a deal with Tech Data to take its security software to market. Plus we ranked Dubai’s dozen biggest distributors by sales.

April: Saudi surge

Microsoft, EMC and Samsung all reiterated the importance of Saudi Arabia to their overall Middle East strategies. Microsoft signed up Redington as an in-country partner for the Kingdom while EMC opened up a dedicated office in Riyadh. The channel also braced itself for a potential squeeze in the HDD space as a substrate shortage threatened to curb supply. We also brought together Intel’s Maan Ahmadie and AMD’s Tarek Heiba for a face-off. Tarek’s now left AMD, so we guess that makes Maan the winner!

May: Familiar faces

Jonathan Saunders, a familiar face to many in the networking market (especially at Cisco), made a return in May as head of World Wide Packets (WWP) Middle East operation. Microsoft continued to add more new distributors at a rate of knots, finalising a deal with Emitac in Qatar. Fujitsu Siemens became the latest A-brand vendor to indicate that it was looking at setting up an assembly facility in Saudi Arabia. Like Acer before it, talk proved cheap, and the plan has so far come to nothing concrete.

June: Emitac adds Acer

UAE-based distribution house Emitac underlined its multi-vendor ambitions, inking a distribution deal with Acer. Regional distribution powerhouse Aptec boosted its operations in Saudi Arabia, introducing a new call centre concept to improve its service levels in the Kingdom. Navin Tikoo, formerly boss at Aptec Africa, decided that the time was right to move into retail distribution and signed up with new UAE outfit Derinton.

Well, that’s it for the first half of the year. Next week we look at the stories that graced the pages of Channel Middle East in the second half of the year. It’s also the perfect opportunity for you to give us feedback on this year’s coverage, so please feel free to e-mail stuart.wilson@itp.com to share your views.

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