SAN DIEGO — Fostering healthy competition, nurturing partner relationships and adopting new business strategies are key factors for success for system builders and suppliers in today’s economic environment.

That’s the message Hector de J. Ruiz, president and chief operating officer of AMD, delivered to attendees at the sixth annual System Builder Summit during his keynote address.

The Canadian attendees at the show represent three definitive areas of the white box market, including those that sell national Canadian brands, locally-assembled brands as well as distributor house brands.

De J. Ruiz said AMD and system builders have a lot in common and can learn from each other in order to make the white box industry a success.

“We have some of the same challenges as you,” he said, namely with respect to the competition. “Our competition is just bigger and tougher.”

The key to success is having fair competition, an array of choices and product differentiation as well as a good ear, he said.

System builders are successful and growing in number, he said, partly because they offer customers endless options.

“You understand the market segment, which has led to the success of system builders in the U.S. as well as other countries.”

Today, system builders are very successful in the areas of government, education and small business, he said.

And while it’s difficult to differentiate from the brand name competitors, being able to offer a more specialized product and personalized touch is making a huge difference, he said.

“All customers are unique and need to be serviced with great care,” he said. “Think beyond the box, not just outside of the box.”

Taking it one step further, De J. Ruiz said there is an opportunity to look at system building in a new light, whereby some of the technology components can be integrated in the future. He said this will provide a fundamental shift in the way we view the PC.

But that doesn’t mean the demise of the PC. On the contrary, De J. Ruiz said the PC will continue to be at the centre of the digital experience — although it will morph and integrate with a host of appliances and devices.

“The ability to integrate transistors on a chip will be exponentially higher in the next five years,” he said.

Microsoft’s Chris Jones, the vice-president of the Windows client division, said the PC will become even more relevant over the next decade.

“XP can change the way we think about computers,” he said, explaining how the company’s new operating system sits in the heart of that vision.

“From photos to music to video to networking, the proliferation of digital devices will cause the proliferation of the PC.”

For system builders, the opportunities for customers of Windows XP include enhanced security, mobility, business networking, wireless support as well as the ability to rech into the computer remotely for help and support, Jones said.

The System Builder Summit continues through Wednesday.

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