Compaq notebooks will grace the shelves of Telstra retail outlets within the next fortnight, marking a significant focal shift towards total mobile solutions.
Compaq has also been quietly fulfilling the supply of desktops since Gateway's withdrawal from the Australian market at the end of August, according to Gary Delport, national general manager for the Telstra Shop Network.
Compaq, on the other hand, denies any intention of setting up a retail arrangement with Telstra for desktops.
"Telstra's primary focus in this is telephony and mobile. If they wish to purchase desktops from our resellers they can do that. It's their call," said Hugh Scott, corporate communications manager for Compaq Australia.
The PC vendor said the deal with Telstra is not a rehashed version of its Compaq Connect stores, which vanished from the market earlier this year after a surprisingly short life-span.
"We're talking about two different marketing strategies for two different economies," said Scott. "[The deal with Telstra] is not about building customised PCs."
Either way, it appears Compaq will not bask in the added exposure alone, with Toshiba and IBM also being measured up as possible suppliers and Hewlett-Packard already having a presence in Telstra stores via its handheld devices.
"Three months prior to [Gateway] pulling out we were already in discussions to dissolve the exclusivity of the [desktop supply] agreement," said Delport. He expects to sign other suppliers in Q1 next year.
The focus on mobile solutions marks a change in strategy for Telstra, one which Delport concedes has much to do with the telco's push into data services. It will also tighten Telstra's relationship with PDA specialist distributor Advanced Portable Technologies.
"We're moving towards a mobile-type solution in an effort to extend consumer computing," said Delport.
Next month, 13 of Telstra's 100 stores nationwide will conduct a trial, selling a limited number of Compaq's Presario and Evo notebooks as well as maintaining the iPAQ offering. They will also take on board a suite of wireless LAN products.