Maxtor goes retail with Dick Smith

In a vote of confidence in the tech-savvy consumer, hard drive manufacturer Maxtor has signed a deal that will see hard drives packaged and bundled with upgrade software to be sold on the retail shelves of Dick Smith.

Traditionally the vendor only sells its hard drives through distributors Ingram Micro and Digiland en route to systems integrators and resellers.

End users have always been able to buy the products individually from these resellers (normally shipped in a static bag), but the agreement with Dick Smith means that end users can buy a packaged version bundled with an upgrade kit.

The kit consists of software and other instructional material such as a step-by-step guide to transferring files from an old drive onto the new drive whilst upgrading.

“This is a whole new market for us,” Maxtor national sales manager, Craig Davis, said. “We are attacking the upgrade market – those end users with 5 or 10 gigabyte hard drives that need a larger drive.

"Before now you might have found a hard drive behind the counter at a reseller, but you wouldn’t have found a retail hard drive on the shelf of a Dick Smith or a Harvey Norman. The packaged drive makes things a lot simpler and easier for the mums and dads of the world.”

Maxtor said that Australian consumers were now becoming tech-savvy enough to upgrade such components themselves.

“Most of these target customers are second or third time buyers,” Davis said. “Those that buy from Dick Smith are also comfortable with doing things themselves – they know they can rely on a good level of assistance and service from the staff.”

Davis said Dick Smith would begin selling a packaged version of its 60 gigabyte, 7200 rpm drive for $199 with a 12 month warranty.

“There are packaging costs and other costs involved with selling the drives retail,” Davis said. “They will generally be sold at about a 10 per cent premium [on other channels].”

Davis said that two or three more models would be introduced in the coming months. Overseas the vendor sold packaged drives in 20, 30, 40, 60, 80 and 120 gigabyte varieties.

The concept of selling hard drives through retail outlets might be new for Australia, but not internationally. Maxtor and several of its competitors have been selling packaged drives in Europe and the US for several years.

“We waited to make sure it was a tried and tested model before we introduced it here,” Davis said.

Maxtor was currently in discussions with several other retail chains to take on the product, but Davis was not willing to speculate on which of them would follow Dick Smith’s lead.

Dick Smith has also been offering Maxtor’s range of USB and FireWire external drives for the past two months.