A new laptop bag designer in Orange County has popped up out almost of nowhere. V7, based in Santa Ana, just announced a new line of computer backpacks, satchels and messenger bags to tote laptops around.
But look closer at the company behind the company and you’ll see an extremely familiar name to Orange County. It’s Ingram Micro, the Santa Ana-mega distributor known for shipping technology products between manufacturers and retailers, suppliers and customers and, in some cases, online stores and consumers.
V7 is Ingram’s own brand of computer-related products. The label started in 1996 with computer monitors in Europe. In 2006, V7 became a global brand based in Santa Ana. More recently, it began expanding into PC accessories and supplies.
Two weeks ago, the company added a new line of keyboards and wireless mice. Last summer, it introduced GPS devices, and about a year ago, it began offering wall mounts and LCD monitor stands, plus all sorts of computer cables.
The key to V7 is where the product comes from — for the most part, they are from name brands. The laptop bags are made by Anaheim’s Targus Group International, one of the biggest names in the bag business. The cables are from Belkin Products, also a leader in its niche. Clover Technologies supplies the printer ink cartridges.
And being an “off” brand, prices are cheaper.
“The value proposition is that our (customers) deal with customers who are very brand sensitive and looking for high-quality products but don’t want to pay brand-name prices,” said Chris Lorenz, senior director of vendor management for Ingram’s North American V7 Private Label Group. ”Every dollar saved means something to these customers right now.”
The new line of V7 Targus bags are priced between $24.99 for a notebook sleeve to $59.99 for an urban backpack. Comparably, the cheapest sleeve at Targus.com is $19.99, while urban-style backpacks start at $39.99. You can’t do a direct comparison though. Targus made the V7 bags just for V7.
“They’re not cannibalizing their branded business because these are different products,” Lorenz said.
Since Ingram sees exactly what’s being sold and what sits on store shelves, it has a good eye into hot tech categories. But not all has gone well. Last summer’s launch of GPS navigation devices has already been put on hold “for strategic reasons,” Lorenz said. An earlier attempt at laptop bags in late 2007 also was abandoned.
The private label business is a common way for companies to make an extra buck, although it also means more competition for other brands. Mobile Edge, another laptop bag company in Anaheim, makes the laptop bags for Alienware computers and a local action-sports company.
“There are a lot of manufacturers out there who are doing ‘private labeling’ of their products,” said Matthew Olivolo, a Mobile Edge spokesman. ”It’s really been a huge area for us.”
Mobile Edge does not use Ingram as a distributor.
Lorenz, with Ingram, won’t say what companies make V7′s monitors, computer mice or other products. But expect V7 to make more announcemetns soon.
“You’ll see us introducing more product lines this year,” Lorenz said. “Future partnerships will be driven by the relationships that we have today.”
More images (all courtesy of Ingram Micro):
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