Analysts fear that Compaq?s new Compaq.com division will cause upset among the hardware supplier?s third party channel.
The new unit (see VNU Newswire, 29 January, 1999) is authorised to sell all of the hardware supplier?s PCs and services worldwide, centralising Internet activities that were previously scattered throughout different product divisions.
While it will focus initially on selling online to the US market, localised European versions of Compaq.com are expected to appear during the first half of 1999.
But Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group, said: "From the first blush, it looks adequate and well thought out. Now it remains to be seen if Compaq can keep the channel from having a cow."
In an attempt to soften the blow, however, Compaq will direct some add on sales via the channel. A spokesman said that customers would be able to buy PCs and servers online, then use the site to find a Compaq reseller in their neighbourhood to install a network.
And Christine Arrington, an IDC analyst, said: "I think it?s a risk that Compaq has to take. [The Internet] has become a critical channel into small business and consumers."
But Compaq.com will sell more than just the new PC family that the firm announced last November for the small and medium business market. The machines, which are sold both online and via the channel in the US, have yet to reach Europe, but are expected to appear in the first half of 1999.
According to the Compaq spokesman, the new division will sell all of the company?s commercial, consumer and small business lines, and enterprise customers will eventually even be able to purchase its high end Alpha servers using the service.
While Compaq.com is clearly modelled on Dell?s successful online sales operation, the spokesman said it would exceed Dell?s offering by "the sheer breadth of products and services," because users can buy desktops, servers and services too.
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