Saturday, October 24, 2009

Microvision: Asia-Pacific Region Distributor and OEM Partner

Microvision announced its 3rd Qtr earnings conference call a few days ago, and it was scheduled for Thursday, October 22nd… after the market close.

However, early in the morning of October 22nd, Reuters issued the following news item…

Mint Wireless Limited Signs Distribution Agreement With Microvision Inc.; Receives Initial Order From Uniden Corporation
Thursday, 22 Oct 2009 03:40am EDT

“Mint Wireless Limited announced the signing of an exclusive distribution agreement with Microvision Inc. (Microvision) to distribute a PicoP display engine enabled accessory pocket projector to select Asia Pacific countries. This agreement follows Mint Wireless Limited’s recently announced strategic partnership and supply agreement with Uniden Corporation (Uniden), where Mint Wireless Limited is the exclusive supply partner for a select range of technology products to Uniden’s Australian and New Zealand markets. Mint Wireless Limited has received an initial purchase order from Uniden for an OEM version of Microvision’s pocket projector and will manage the supply, marketing and distribution of the Uniden OEM pocket projector for the Australian and New Zealand markets.

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Here’s the link to this news…
http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/keyDevelopments?rpc=66&symbol=MVIS.O×tamp=20091022074000

Immediately after the Reuter news, Matt Nichols had the following post at Microvision’s blog The Displayland…

Mint Wireless And Uniden Start The Ball Rolling

“As our launch partners begin their own marketing programs we stated previously that they would initiate their own communications announcements to reveal their name. The first announcement from a partner just showed up on the Australian Stock Exchange newswire at 6:39 p.m., Sydney time, October 22.

Microvision’s Asian distribution partner, Mint Technology, through its parent company Mint Wireless Limited (ASX: MNW), issued the following press release revealing that the global OEM that will private label Microvision’s laser pico projector is Uniden Corporation of Japan.”

Continued…

Here’s the link to the full post…
http://www.microvision.com/displayground/?p=1198

So there you have it... the names of Asia-Pacific region distributor and the global consumer electronics OEM... for Microvision's laser PicoP projector SHOWwx.

Microvision’s Asia-Pacific region distributor is Mint Wireless and the global consumer electronics OEM is Uniden Corporation.

Obviously the Microvision investors didn’t like the names in the news and the stock price plunged to $4.66 early in the morning to make the low of the day [from $5.28] and closed the day at $5.07. Then at the conference call, after the market close, Alex Tokman, CEO of Microvision, decidedly tried to dodge the questions regarding green laser supply from Corning. I don’t think the investors liked the [wishy-washy] answers to green laser supply issue either.  And that, in my opinion, set the stage for further decline in MVIS stock price that came about the next day on Friday… when the stock went down further and closed the day at $4.39.

The stock price action before and after the conference call [CC] is not surprising when you consider…

• Many MVIS investors were expecting global consumer electronics firms like Sony or LG Electronics as the OEM partner of Microvision that was announced on October 8th, 2009… without naming any names at the time. Many of us and that include me, speculated on the OEM partner’s name and wrote pages to arrive at the conclusion that it could be either Sony or LG Electronics. When we finally heard the name “Uniden Corporation”, we were disappointed… because most of us are not familiar with Uniden as a household name in the US.

• Also the undisclosed name, of the Asian distributor [from October 8th press release], was finally disclosed as “Mint Wireless” at the same time the OEM’s name "Uniden" became a public knowledge. Again, some of us were disappointed because we were expecting some big name global distributor… and not some company named “Mint” from Asia.

• At the conference call, several times the same question about “quantities of green laser” supply from Corning was asked and Alex Tokman answered it in the same vague manner [more or less]… its hard to say and that he wasn’t sure. We all know how important the green laser supply quantities are to the successful launch of Microvision’s first laser PicoP projector SHOWwx.  So, it is not surprising that each and every individual participating in the Q&A session asked the same question [in different ways]… about the quantities of green lasers that would be available to Microvision in 2009 and 2010.

Here’s the link to the transcript of 3rd Qtr conference call…
http://www.mvisbuzz.com/2009/10/conference-call-notes.html

• At one point during the Q&A session, the Analyst from Morgan Stanley took a dig at Alex Tokman when he said: “At some point you're going to have to give the analyst community something to feed on and do their reports. I'm looking forward to that day.”

• For a few years now, I've been watching the investor anticipation and high hopes leading into quarterly conference calls only to feel let down after each event. It looks like that the analysts have also caught on and don't much partake in Q&A sessions anymore…as they don’t seem to get what they are looking for information on supply quantities of green lasers at this stage of product launch and Microvision's sales channel growth.

Considering the above, a first blush knee jerk action best describes the investor response to the news… about Mint Wireless and Uniden… and lack clear understanding of comments made by Alex Tokman, on green laser supplies for 2009 and 2010.

In my humble opinion, the investor selling on the news is reactionary; because of lack of information about the two big name companies from the Asia-Pacific region. Let’s first talk about Mint Wireless and Uniden, and then we will discuss the lack of understanding the comments on green laser supply issue. The price of MVIS stock will take care of itself when we are better informed and had some time to digest the information.

Here we go…
Microvision has clearly stated their distribution strategy as…

“The Company plans to distribute its accessory pico projector product through three sales channels: OEM branded products, Microvision branded products sold through international distributors and Microvision direct sales through its on-line store. Microvision has signed several marketing and distribution agreements with international distributors in Asia and Europe to launch Microvision branded and private labeled versions of the laser pico projector. Microvision expects to begin product shipments in the next several weeks.”

Here’s the link to the press release…
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Microvision-Announces-bw-2654236991.html?x=0&.v=1

• First, note the statement…

“… three sales channels: OEM branded products, Microvision branded products sold through international distributors and Microvision direct sales through its on-line store.”

That clearly means, we should see several OEM partners worldwide branding Microvision products… a white label sale where the OEM puts their Logo and does its own marketing, sales, and support. The first market that Microvision has opened is the Asia-Pacific region. And the first OEM in the Asia-Pacific region is Uniden Corporation for example. Uniden is a global consumer electronics OEM with over $40 billion in sales and is a household name in the Asia-Pacific region. Not only that, Uniden has extensive reach and depth in other global markets like Europe and the Americas… including the US.  But their engagement in this specific instance, is for the Asia-Pacific region... and they came to the table through Mint Wireless as the Asian distributor/sales agent.

Consider this...
I bought my Uniden cordless phone system, here in the US, in 2007 from Costco... after having done some research looking for best of the breed. In the Asia-Pacific region, my friends and family tell me that Uniden is a very well known and respected brand name. Microvision has done well teaming-up with Uniden as its first global consumer electronics OEM. Granted, they are not Sony or LG Electronics... but that may happen soon after when green laser supply picture changes.

Here’s more information on Uniden and some well known competition…

Uniden Corporation
http://wrightreports.ecnext.com/coms2/re...

Motorola, Inc.
http://wrightreports.ecnext.com/comsite5...

Nokia Corporation
http://wrightreports.ecnext.com/comsite5...

For those who may not know, Uniden is a pioneer of many electronic gadgets brought to the market…

o 1st to manufacture a cordless phone
o 1st to offer voice scramble security
o 1st to introduce selectable channels
o 1st to introduce caller identification
o 1st to introduce a completely digital phone & digital answering machine
o 1st to introduce a 900 MHz analogue cordless phone into Australia.
o 1st to introduce 5.8 GHz Digital Spread Spectrum cordless phones into Australia
o 1st to introduce Wideband DECT Technology into Australia
o 1st to introduce 3D Mapping into Car Navigation for Australia
o 1st to introduce XDECT Technology into Australia.
Uniden is the world's largest manufacturer of wireless communication products and the world's leading cordless phone manufacturer.

• Now look at the statement again…

“… three sales channels: OEM branded products, Microvision branded products sold through international distributors and Microvision direct sales through its on-line store.”

That clearly means we should see several international distributors worldwide selling branded products with Microvision Logo and the distributor doing the marketing, sales, and support. The first market that Microvision has opened for its branded product is the Asia-Pacific region. And the first distributor in the Asia-Pacific region is Mint Wireless for example. Mint Wireless is a well know distributor of consumer electronics products in the Asia-Pacific region.

Here’s information on Mint Wireless and also the distribution agreement with Microvision…

“Mint Wireless Limited (http://www.mnw.com.au/) is an ASX listed technology company focused on providing mobile payment solutions (http://www.mint-wireless.com/) and the development and management of consumer technology products and services. Mint is a developer and leading distributor of innovative consumer technology products to many of Australia and New Zealand’s largest retailers and online e-tailers.”

Here’s the link to the agreement with Microvision…
http://www.mnw.com.au/images/ASX%20Announcement/20091022_Mint_signsexclusivedistribution_agreementwithMicrovisionandreceivesinitialorderfromUnidenFINAL.pdf

Mint Wireless is not really a distributor in the way we think here in the US. In the context of their relationship with Microvision, they may act like a sales agency [very common practice in the Asia-Pacific region] working off a small percentage commission like 3% to 5%.

Their mission is more like helping Microvision [as an agency] open the doors to OEMs and help book sales. One such door they have opened for Microvision is Uniden. Mint Wireless also buys product for its own account and certainly does issue a PO in its own name. If you look at their size [in terms of revenues] they are only $12 million dollars from the Australia/New Zealand region. However, with Uniden contract in hand and working as agents for Microvision, they hope to bring-in high margin revenue with little cost exposure.

• Now let’s move on to the next part of the statement…

“Microvision has signed several marketing and distribution agreements with international distributors in Asia and Europe to launch Microvision branded and private labeled versions of the laser pico projector.”

This clearly tells me, without a doubt, that there will be more regions in the world, like Europe and the Americas, which will be opened in the near future. I expect to hear, on a monthly basis, the names of more global consumer electronics OEMs for white labeled products and regional distributors for Microvision's branded products.

• Now back to the first part of the statement one more time…

“The Company plans to distribute its accessory pico projector product through three sales channels: … and Microvision direct sales through its on-line store.”

That tells me, we should soon see an on-line Microvision store selling Microvision brand laser PicoP projectors… including the SHOWwx and its derivatives.

I hope that helps, to clarify the way business is being done and who the household name players are in the Asia-Pacific region.

Not only that, I hope this post has helped you clear-up the marketing and distribution strategy that has been adopted by Microvision for its stand alone accessory PicoP projector SHOWwx.

Stay tuned for Part 2 to this post… which would cover the green laser supply issue as part of the post titled: Microvision: 3rd Qtr Earnings Conference Call – October 22nd, 2009.
 
The journey to “Image by PicoP” ubiquity has just begun… and we are on the roll.

As Matt Nichols from Microvision said…

“Mint Wireless and Uniden Start the Ball Rolling”

It’s a roll… meaning a little push is all it takes to continue gathering momentum.

Be part of this momentous journey and not just watch the caravan pass you by.

Anant Goel
http://www.wealthbyoptions.com/