The company that created the BIOS core system software two decades ago is looking to expand its presence north of the U.S. border for the first time in its 25-year history.

Milpitas, Calif.-based Phoenix Technologies Ltd. has announced the signing of Bell Microproducts and Supercom to market

and distribute its FirstWare suite of recovery applications to system builders. These include Phoenix FirstWare Recover, Recover Pro, Recover Pro Network, Vault, Connect and Check.

“”We’re very excited to have two new relationships in Canada,”” said Brian Berlin, vice-president of sales for the Americas regions at Phoenix. “”Those are brand new relationships and we’ve had no relationships (in Canada) in the past.””

At press time, Phoenix was finalizing its distribution agreement with Synnex Corp. in the U.S., which will also include Synnex Canada Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the distributor, according to Berlin.

FirstWare applications allow users to recover systems without boot disks or recovery CDs if the operating system will not boot. In the event of a software virus or malware attack, for example, Recover Pro allows users to back up their PC operating system, applications, user settings and data files onto their hard drives and recover them without IT support or connecting to the Internet for recovery assistance. The products are available to customers as a software license or pre-built into the system before it is shipped.

Under the agreements, system builders are able to purchase the software at original equipment manufacturer pricing for $10 (all prices U.S.) per unit depending on their commitment to distributors, said Berlin. In contrast, Phoenix partners who sell 2,000 systems per month, for example, can buy units at approximately $3 to $4 a piece, he added.

Berlin said while Phoenix has traditionally focused its products on the U.S. market, it was getting “”a lot”” of inquiries from Canadian system builders who were interested in its recovery applications. In April, Phoenix contacted other industry vendors using distributors in Canada to get some advice on which ones would suit its needs best.

“”We’re not a commodity product. We’re not Symantec,”” added Berlin. “”We need people who are really passionate about our product and the solution. The names that kept coming to us were Bell Micro, Supercom and Synnex.””

Phoenix plans to leverage the distributors’ reseller bases to recruit Canadian partners. With the Bell Micro and Supercom agreements, Phoenix has access to over 7,000 resellers. Berlin said Phoenix is looking to add a variety of resellers including CDW and Insight.

Edman Lau, senior product manager at Supercom – which is also a white box manufacturer – said Phoenix carries a good reputation.

“”(Phoenix) is a well-established company,”” said Lau. “”Whoever has been in the PC field for the past 15 or longer years knows Phoenix software.””

Frank Squizzato, vice-president of business development at storage distributor Bell Microproducts Canada, agreed. “”Everybody knows them as the people that created the BIOS for the PC,”” said Squizzato. “”Eighty to 90 per cent of the motherboards out there have a Phoenix BIOS.””

He said that the FirstWare suite is a good match for his customers.

“”It really fits into the system builder community,”” said Squizzato. “”(Phoenix’s) products are unique in that they’re trying to hit a space that’s the same as Norton anti-virus.””

But Squizzato added while the cost of the license is only a few dollars, that’s a lot in the highly-commoditized system builder market.

“”These guys are fighting with nickels and dimes and a few dollars does become something that’s significant to them. They really have to evaluate how this is going to benefit their business and if it will attract more customers,”” he said.

Bell Microproducts Canada is initially launching the software to top system integrators and customers who are looking for this product.

Supercom will not be selling Phoenix software pre-loaded onto its desktops and notebooks that it currently ships, said Lau.

“”Right now we choose to offer it when dealers ask for it,”” he said.

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