A new player in the flat panel touch screen market will begin shipping product next month, promising to undercut major LDC makers in certain niches.

Aspen Touch Solutions, a Colorado-based company mainly financed by C. Ceronix Inc., a custom CRT monitor manufacturer, says it will focus on

the retail, industrial and medical industries.

“”We feel we’re able to bring to the market feature-rich and lower-cost products”” than major manufactures such as Elo TouchSystems and 3M’s MicroTouch, says Steve Greer, Aspen’s vice-president of worldwide channel sales. “”We feel like we’ve got the right business model from the standpoint of operating on low overhead, outstanding logistics capabilities and contacts.””

The company’s screens will be made at an Aspen-owned facility in Taiwan, then configured by Ceronix. The U.S. management team has only five members.

Initially it will offer three configurations around a 15-inch resistive touch panel – including one with a magnetic stripe reader and one that includes a customer-viewable screen – but Greer said 12- and 17-inch models will also be made.

The company is still negotiating for distributors in Canada and the U.S. ScanSource Inc. of Greenville, S.C., one of North America’s biggest point-of-sale distributors, said it doesn’t comment on possible suppliers. Bluestar Inc. of Florence, Ky., which also distributes in Canada, couldn’t be reached for comment. Most of the company’s business will be through POS solution providers, he said, who assemble a hardware-software package for retailers.

Greer also said he’s looking directly for resellers here and recently sent out a mailing to 1,000 VARs in Canada and the U.S.

“”Canada is a little more difficult market in touch monitors”” than the U.S., he said. “”They’re price-sensitive and for the most part are willing to live with a lower-performing unit to get a lower-cost.””

Aspen screens will be priced five to 10 per cent lower than Elo and 3M products, which he said means they’ll be “”at the lower cost of the high end.””

“”It’s a little more difficult in Canada, but we feel we can be successful there as well.””

One innovation he said the company is bringing that the brightness of Aspen screens will automatically adjust, a feature he said competitors don’t have.

Greer said the company is hoping for first year sales of US$10 million, which would translate into about 12,000 units.

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