Santosh Varghese, Toshiba

Research focus gives Toshiba notebook lead.

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By  Administrator Published  September 4, 2007

Investment in product R&D and wide mix of products to hit all segments gives Toshiba the edge in mobile computing.

How does the region compare to the rest of the global market & how long have you been in the region?

Toshiba has had a presence in the region for more than three decades. Our first regional office was established in 1965 in Beirut. In 1997, Toshiba Gulf FZE was registered as a wholly owned subsidiary of Toshiba Corporation. The notebook market in the Middle East has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years. According to a recent report published by IDC, notebook PC comprised the bulk of sales, growing by 30 per cent in the last quarter.

Is there a particular growth trend in the Middle East that you have identified and intend to target?

There is a continued trend that sees first-time buyers opting for notebook PCs over desktops, which has, in large part, contributed to Toshiba's success in the market. Our notebook range provides consumers with a multitude of options, allowing them to select a notebook that suits their needs and their budget.

What is your strategy to increase market share and spread brand awareness?

Toshiba has increasingly focused on ensuring the right mix of products are targeted towards multiple consumer segments, and this is a strategy that has proven to be extremely successful for us. We also place a lot of emphasis on research and development, strengthening the relationship with our channel partners and a focused strategy that looks at identifying new market opportunities by being closer to the channel and the end users.

Will the distribution hub at Jebel Ali enable you to keep ahead of your competitors in terms of parts availability and regional customer service?

Since almost 80 per cent of our business is done in the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, the new distribution hub was a logical next step for us. The hub will enable us to significantly improve our route to market in terms of speed and flexibility. It is yet another development that has allowed us to improve our standing in the notebook PC sector by allowing us to strengthen the relationship with our channel partners and better serve our customers.

Who are your main competitors and how do you plan on staying ahead of them?

Competition within the notebook market in the Middle East is at a healthy level at the moment. Toshiba is committed to quality and longevity in the market, which is the reason for its continued investment in research and development. Our ongoing investment in R&D has definitely had a positive impact on the notebook market in the Middle East. New innovations in notebook technology translate into bigger return on investments and more value for customers.

How does the pace of product development affect your ability to successfully coordinate each subsequent release?

As a company that leads by innovating, we are well versed with the need to balance that innovation with product life cycles and demand. What we're seeing is a shift in customer buying from desktop to notebooks and an upgrade path that mirrors this trend, which is great news for a notebook brand like Toshiba.

Consumers often complain of slow roll out of new products compared to other regions; would you agree and why is this?

Aside from the need to market test notebooks, this may have been the case a few years ago but not now. There is perhaps a delay of a week or two, maybe a couple of months at most, but in the main, Toshiba ships products for global release at the same time.

Do you have any upcoming projects/launches?

Yes, we will be introducing a range of new products at GITEX this year, for some of our most successful ranges, including the Qosmio, Satellite and Tecra range of notebook computers. We recently launched the ultra-slim Portege R500 - the world's lightest PC.

Where do you see yourself and/or the business in 5 and 10 years?

Toshiba will continue to follow a strategy to be a leader in innovation and quality for its notebooks. This positioning will continue to differentiate it from other makers and continue to strengthen brand loyalty in the years to come.

Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions for the group?

Our aim for the future is to steadily work on enhancing our relationship with both the channel and our customers - this is of utmost importance to our business. We will also continue to invest in research and development, providing our customers with the very latest in technology and innovative design.

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