There's few folks in Australian tech retailing more controversial than Ruslan Kogan. His latest challenge? Rather than selling Kogan-branded gear, he's selling gear from Canon, Apple and Samsung. Even the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which not even Samsung's selling here yet. Kogan's no stranger to the value of self-publicity, and aggressively courts it. While I was en route to Tokyo yesterday, he announced that along with the existing Kogan-branded stock that he's famous for his online store would now start selling a variety of brand name products, from Canon and Nikon DSLRs to iPad 2s and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. That's in stark contrast to Samsung themselves, who are legally constrained from selling it at retail in Australia for the time being.
Kogan's just becoming a grey market importer in this case, joining a large number of Australian online ventures that have been doing this kind of thing for years. There's nothing implicitly wrong with grey market importing, at least on the surface. Kogan's stated prices are a little cheaper than straight retail, but it'd be well worthwhile checking the other online importers for their prices in my opinion if you wanted to go down the online import route.
He's also no stranger to name-dropping; in the case of this latest venture, he's stating that his inspiration came from Dell, who sell brand-name products complimentary to their other lines, including Kogan TVs locally.
Kogan's prices are competitive, but there's the issue of warranty to consider. As an Australian business, Kogan's tied to local consumer law and is stating that he'll cover products he sells with a 12-month warranty. Over at AusCam, David Hague chased up the brands responsible for this equipment; the most positive response he got was from Apple — I'm impressed he even got comment from them. Hague quotes Apple's Fiona Martin as stating that:
Apple's one (1) year limited warranty for iPad applies to the hardware product manufactured by or for Apple that can be identified by the "Apple" trademark, trade name, or logo affixed to it."
What do you reckon? For every person I've hit who's been happy with a Kogan telly, I've hit another who's been unhappy, but that's just anecdotal. Moving into brand-name retailing changes the perceived quality equation profoundly — but would you buy from Kogan? [Kogan and Auscam]