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Single board computing distributor OKdo debuts

Electrocomponents plc, an electronics distributor based in London, has launched OKdo, a global business that focuses on single board computing and IoT.

That focus includes a reseller initiative, but not one populated with the usual channel suspects. Instead of IT value-added resellers, OKdo seeks to do business with partners such as maker resellers — companies that take single board computers such as Raspberry Pi, package them as kits and sell them to downstream customers. Other targeted partners include electronic device retailers, online resellers and industrial OEMs.

While OKdo will target resellers on the B2B side, it will also cover the B2C market. There, the company will sell to industrial designers, educators and individual makers who use single board computing platforms to build desktop PCs, gaming devices and other electronic gear. OKdo’s new electronic commerce platform, live in seven countries including the U.S., provides the direct sales vehicle.

A slimmer portfolio

OKdo offers hardware and software as well as development support and manufacturing services. In single board computing, OKdo said it will build upon existing relationships with Arduino, BeagleBone and Raspberry Pi. The company also cited new partnering arrangements with Arm, NXP, Broadcom, Intel and Seed. Alliances with start-ups such as Zerynth and The Things Industries are also in the mix.

Richard Curtin, global senior vice president, technology, at OKdo, said OKdo departs somewhat from Electrocomponents’ market approach in that its product portfolio is very slim. While Electrocomponents sells half a million products, OKdo will offer less than a thousand SKUs, Curtin said.

OKdo will also offer a global dedicated channel sales team to work with industrial OEMs and resellers.

Electrocomponents’ other electronics distributor brands, Allied Electronic & Automation in North America and RS Components in Europe and Asia Pacific, will continue to offer single board computing and IoT technologies, Curtin said, citing strategic customers as one example. But he noted, over time, some of those distributors’ larger reseller and OEM partners specifically focused on single board computing and IoT will transition into the OKdo business.

North American focus

The OKdo launch also involves a greater focus on the North American market, in which Allied mainly pursued automation and control technology. OKdo offers a different strategy and focus geared to single board computing customers, noted Claire Doyle, global senior vice president, commercial, at OKdo.

“North America is a very key market for OKdo and one we believe has a lot of potential,” she said.

The OKdo executives declined to identify any of the business’ resellers due to contractual arrangements. But Curtin outlined three types of reseller partners:

  • Maker resellers — typically small, local and regional companies that offer customized single board computer kits under their own brand. Companies in this category sell online and also create content and blogs to inspire makers to do more with their products.
  • Larger resellers — partners in this category tend to have more of a national scope and may design their own circuits to include in their kits. They also sell online.
  • Retailers — these large companies sell through brick-and-mortar stores with physical inventory as well as the web.

As a global business, OKdo “can only go so far in a region,” Curtain said. “Resellers provide the critical last five miles into the customers,” Curtain said.

Selling through the electronics distributor channel is becoming more important in fragmented markets such as IoT, since distributors can pull together components from multiple suppliers under one roof. ON Semiconductor last year reported that it broke the $1 billion mark in quarterly channel sales. The company said distributors offer a way to target the mass consumer market, while also generating demand in market segments such as IoT, industrial and cloud computing.

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