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The Channel Faces Another Difficult Transition: And This Time It Is Not A Technology Or Business Model Change

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by Jay McBain, Principal Analyst, Global Channels, Forrester

JaymcbainThe global IT channel have proven to be remarkable change-agents, both in front of their customers and inside their own businesses. Thinking about the amount of churn over the past 35 years can be downright dizzying.

Starting from the first disconnected PC's to last week's WannaCry ransomware attack, channel partners have transitioned their skills to dozens of new technology opportunities. At the same time, they have transformed their business models from resell, break-fix, installation, maintenance, to solution providing and recurring managed services, among others.

The one thing that has stayed relatively constant over these decades is how customers decide and procure technology. Led by CIOs and IT departments, channel partners and vendors have fine-tuned their product and messaging mix to capitalize on this customer buying journey. Over the past couple of years, driven by cloud and the growing acceptance of SaaS business ecosystems, this journey just took a hard right turn.

Alcatel Keeps Windows Phone Alive With Idol 4 Pro

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Windows Phone might soon be over but Europe is soon getting a new smartphone running on the Microsoft OS-- the Alcatel Idol 4 Pro, a handset first launched in the US back in 2016.

Alcatel Idol 4 ProTechnically a rebranded version of the Android-based Idol 4S, the Idol 4 Pro features a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. The display is a 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 resolution number and the cameras are 21MP back/8MP front, while the body is in metal and glass (as opposed to the typical Alcatel plastic).

Atari Returns to Game Consoles

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Here's for unexpected comebacks-- following the E3 2017 tease of a "brand new Atari product," the once iconic games company reveals the Ataribox, a console featuring a look reminiscent of classic Atari hardware.

AtariboxDescribed in an announcement newsletter to fans as "a new product that stays true to our heritage while appealing to both old and new fans of Atari," little is actually known about the Ataribox. As mentioned earlier, the design is inspired by old Atari machines and complete with wood paneling, ribbed lines and raised back. It will come in either wood or black/red finishes.

Farewell, Windows Phone

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Microsoft brings Windows Phone to an end as it stops support of Windows Phone 8.1, more than three years after the company introduced the update back in April 2014.

Windows PhoneA victim of the Android-iOS duopoly controlling the mobile OS arena, Windows Phone 8.1 and its 8/7 predecessors power around 80% of the millions of devices running on the Microsoft software, according to AdDuplex. As a result such devices are now unsupported, and only 20% of Windows phones run on the latest version, Windows 10 Mobile OS.

Currently Microsoft sells a limited number of budget Windows 10 Mobile smartphones, and in any case the OS appears to be receiving little support from the Windows maker. The company has stopped making own Lumia-brand devices, and rumours suggest Windows 10 Mobile will only be maintained until support ends in 2019.

Gartner: Q2 EMEA PC Market Down -3.5% Y-o-Y

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According to Gartner EMEA PC shipments total 17 million units in Q2 2017-- a -3.5% Y-o-Y decline, with mixed results across different countries, as some are confident while others are not.

For instance, uncertainty around the UK elections lead to some UK businesses delaying purchases, especially in the public sector. On the other hand, France sees a "more than expected" surge in consumer confidence after the electoral win of Emmanual Macron, even if spending on PCs remains "sluggish." German businesses are spending more on PCs as they invest in new Windows 10-based hardware, while the Russian market sees improvement thanks to economic stabilisation.

Q2 2017 PC Market

In global terms, Q2 2017 PC shipments are also down-- specifically by -4.3% Y-o-Y, reaching 61.1m units. Gartner says the industry is in the midst of a 5-year slump, making an 11th straight quarter of shipment declines and, when it comes to Q2 2017, the lowest quarter volume since 2007.

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