Wooden monitors prove a hard sell

European users haven't exactly warmed to the idea of wood-cased computer peripherals, according to a Swedish vendor of the distinctive-looking products.

Stockholm startup Swedx, a maker of LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors, mice and keyboards that are cased in solid wood, first launched its products at the Cebit exhibition last year, said Fawzi Salloum, vice president of the company, speaking on the sidelines of this year's show in Hanover, Germany.

Sales haven't exactly taken off, Salloum said, explaining the company is selling 3,000 of its wood-cased monitors each month. That doesn't account for very much of the European market for flat-panel displays, which Salloum estimated at around 4 million units per year.

"It's been hard, it's been difficult," Salloum said, acknowledging the four-year-old company has yet to turn a profit. "We're very small."

Despite slow sales, Swedx isn't giving up on the idea of wood-cased computer peripherals and Salloum is hopeful that the company's fortunes will improve.

"Day by day we are setting up new (sales) channels," Salloum said, explaining that the company's first year involved marketing the company's products to potential distributors across Europe.

The company currently offers LCD monitors in three screen sizes -- a 15-inch version for €458 (US$560), a 17-inch offering and a 19-inch version -- as well as a USB (Universal Serial Bus) keyboard and a USB mouse and a wireless mouse. Pricing for the mice and keyboard was not immediately available.

Each of the products is available in a choice of three woods: ash from the U.S., beech from Germany and sapele from Africa, Salloum said, adding that the monitors are meant to appeal to a broad range of customers, including home users and senior corporate executives.

Swedx draws on Sweden's rich history of woodworking and its reputation as a provider of high-technology products, the company's brochure said.

"One of the main advantages of our product range is that it is environmentally friendly," the brochure noted. "Swedx gives you access to a wonderful world of more feelings and beauty."

Looking ahead, Salloum hopes to see the company reach profitability "soon" and believes the company's message and its unique array of products is striking a chord with some users.

"Spain and Luxembourg are pretty good markets for us," he said.

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Sumner Lemon

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