PC powerhouses ponder direct strategies

PC powerhouses ponder direct strategies

Acer dumps US retailers

In the wake of an announcement last week that Acer America will stop selling the Aspire line of consumer desktop PCs in US retail stores, Acer Australia has assured its retail partners that there are no such plans here.

Acer Australia marketing director Charles Chung said that there are no plans in Australia to sell home PC products directly through the Internet. "All of our Aspire-branded home PCs are sold through mass merchandisers such as Abacus in WA, Radio Rentals in SA and the Vox group nationally. Added to these are dozens of independent retailers, and we are currently satisfied with the progress in the retail market," he explained.

Vox Group IT coordinator Paul Gleeson said the Aspire products sold locally were developed in Australia and described them as "well specified Intel-based systems at a price point".

According to Chung, Acer Australia's Internet focus has been on developing facilities such as the Internet online processing system (IOPS) to facilitate its channels. This has been primarily for the reseller partners and commercial PC products, and will be extended to mass merchandisers for the Aspire home PC range.

Although Acer America is replacing the retail channel by selling the Aspire exclusively online, according to a statement from its head office, more resources will be devoted to its business product resellers.

HP takes first direct steps

by Philip Sim and Dan Briody

SYDNEY - Acer wasn't the only PC vendor talking about direct Web sales last week, with Hewlett-Packard in France announcing it would begin selling small business desktops over the Web in coming months.

Company officials described it as the first step in a gradual move toward a hybrid model of PC selling, like Compaq's, that uses a combination of channel sales and direct sales.

The new model is expected to be in place by the end of this year, according to company officials.

"I think we have been overly cautious at HP to use the 'direct' word," said Emilio Ghilardi, Vectra operations manager of the business desktop division at HP in France. "There is a lot of emotion around it. But this is coming from a real customer need."

No plans yet

Australian officials said at this stage there were no plans to sell directly over the Web.

"All our efforts right now are on working with the channel," said Bruce Thompson, HP's Australian managing director.

In fact, ARN understands that Hewlett-Packard is preparing to launch a new electronic commerce intitiative in Australia that will involve the channel.

Despite those assurances, Hewlett-Packard's managing director for Asia-Pacific, Dick Warmington, admitted it was possible that HP would sell directly over the Web in Australia sometime in the future.

"To be quite honest, we haven't worked out exactly how all this is going to play out," he said.

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