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Its unusual to see a company recommend that its customers buy someone else's product rather than its own - most of the time, anyway.
But that's exactly what King of Prussia-based thin client computing vendor Devon IT said in a recent press release ( Acer N2010G Thin Client Replaces Dell, HP, Devon and Wyse Thin Clients At Lower Cost). And on Devon IT's website, Acer models now clearly get top billing.
So what's behind this unusual strategic marketing move? It reflects for one thing a gradual evolution in Devon IT's business model, according to Devon IT VP of Marketing Paul Mancini, who spoke with Philly Tech News. And it also reflects shifting alliances in a rapidly changing and growing segment of the computer industry.
Devon IT has been moving for some time from being a bundled provider of thin client devices and the specialized software they need to function towards shedding the low-margin hardware manufacturing and focusing on its thin client/virtual desktop operating systems and software. While it still uses contract manufacturers to produce a couple of hardware models and customers or distributors can still contract to have other models produced according to Devon IT's reference or top level designs, Mancini says, Devon has been deemphasising its hardware manufacturing. Devon's greatest value lies in its thin client (DeTOS) and zero client operating systems, and its Echo Thin Client Management Software.
The other challenge Devon has faced has been finding a major partner (or partners) to help reach enterprise customers. As a relatively small player, Devon needs both the access to customers as well as the credibility and technical synchronization a major vendor can provide.
One partnership Devon IT developed was with IBM, but that ended in 2010 with Devon filing a RICO lawsuit against IBM and some of its executives (a judge later threw out the RICO portion of the complaint against IBM, but not the individual executives). That lawsuit was settled in October 2012 and the docket was ordered sealed by the judge, meaning the terms of the settlement are not publicly known.
After the termination of the IBM relationship, Devon IT developed a partnership with Dell that was apparently producing big results, as I was about to report one year ago. But Dell suddenly announced its acquisition of a larger Devon competitor, Wyse Technology, for all practical purposes ending its relationship with Devon (see Devon IT may need to reboot itself again after Dell's Wyse acquisition; Challenge also could create new opportunities).
But there were other large players in the PC industry looking for thin client solutions. One of them was Taiwan-based Acer, the 4th largest global PC manufacturer, ranking behind Dell in volume according to IDC data. Last year Acer announced a global alliance with Devon IT, and an Acer thin client product series using Devon IT technology.
There are some other major PC manufacturers out there looking for thin client solutions, but Mancini couldn't comment on whether Devon is working with any of them.