In an effort to gain a bigger slice of the spiralling consumer PC market, Compaq has introduced a pilot program which will give computer buyers free installation and training services when they buy a Presario notebook or PC.
Compaq launched its "Making it Simple" campaign last week as part of an ongoing strategy to consolidate mass-merchant PC sales in an "extremely buoyant" market, according to product and strategy manager Ben O'Leary.
"Demand for PCs is running rampant," he said. "I think the GST is assisting the need to become computerised along with Government rebate schemes on purchasing costs. Also, there is a general desire to get onto the Internet."Under the scheme, customers who purchase from the current Presario range can make an appointment with Compaq's service partner, Quicknowledge, for installation and basic training.
Quicknowledge has been providing services for a number of years through a number of retail partners. "They [Quickknowledge]offer installation services in a pack so when we were looking for a pilot company to test the scheme, their name came forward," O'Leary explained.
Analysts say the campaign is a good way for Compaq to pick up the consumer sales it lost last year when they were dumped by Harvey Norman.
"Compaq has been slipping in the market, especially after they were dropped by Harvey Norman last year," said Senior Inform analyst Phil Burnham.
"Compaq have always had a strong presence in the mass merchant market and it is a good move on Compaq's part to challenge Hewlett-Packard and IBM, who cashed in on pre-Christmas sales.
"Of course, one of the best ways to get back on target is to get back with Harvey Norman, who command a large part of the market," he added.
Compaq, however, maintains its market share has increased despite its disappearance from Harvey Norman shelves.
"The door is always open to Harvey Norman, but we have seen a huge pickup in sales with all our retail partners," O'Leary said. "The latest PC figures show IBM, Compaq and HP consumer sales all within a very small margin, and we have done that without Harvey Norman.
"This campaign emphasises that we no longer have all of our eggs in the one basket, and we recognise the importance of the customer experience."O'Leary said the impetus behind the campaign was the increasing trend by competitors to scale down entry-level PCs in terms of warranties and support.
"It is a bold, positive step to give the consumer more. Customers realise they are getting more for their money at a lower price point.
"Although this is a pilot program, I fundamentally believe in the concept because so many customers are first-time users who are afraid to take the PC out of the box."The offer is available through authorised retailers, Compaq Connect stores and the Compaq Call Centre.