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Ingram Micro CE's McCarty on Tablets, the Holidays and the Economy

October 17, 2011 By Stephen Silver
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At Ingram Micro CE's Fall Vendor Expo in Scottsdale Brent McCarty, the company's vice president and general manager, sat for an exclusive interview with Dealerscope.

Among topics discussed were the company's holiday plans and forecast, general industry and economic trends, and some of the hiccups that resulted from Ingram Micro's partnership with BrandSource on Expert Warehouse II.

What follows is a transcript of part one of the interview; check back to the site Tuesday for part two.

DS: What do you see as the most important trends in the CE industry heading into the holiday season?

BM: Definitely tablets, for sure. I think the launch of the Amazon Kindle Fire will be something that is very meaningful in the marketplace. There's forecasts that they'll sell between 3 and 5 million units in the fourth quarter. The fact that they have the back-end infrastructure and cloud supporting that tablet could be meaningful. It's really going to be interesting to see the price point, and the support that they have in the back end, and how that will shape the marketplace for tablets.

DS: Speaking of the tablet sector, when we're talked to people in the industry throughout the year, there's been a lot of optimism about tablets, but there's also been some disappointment with some of the iPad competitors. How do see the tablet sector shaping up, aside from Apple and aside from Amazon?

BM: It's really hard to pick who will win. What Amazon and Apple have done to differentiate is, I've heard them referred to as the "Jukebox." What they've done great is that they have a back end that supports it.  It's that cloud that enables, and the content that enables the sell rate on the tablet. Unless you have something like that in the back end... really, nobody else really has anything that differentiates their device. They're all using the standard technology for the operating system. It's tough to differentiate against Apple, and now it'll be interesting to see how Amazon turns things up.

DS: What are some of the other product categories that you see being big for the holidays?

BM:  I think television will be the usual suspect. Gaming accessories for sure. Probably the category that's having the most success this year, and probably the back half of last year, is headphones. For every tablet or mp3 player that's sold, approximately five sets of headphones are sold. Now you're seeing all the celebrity endorsements as well, and that's really changing the shape of that industry differently, so that'll be very significant.


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