Dell will start selling Web servers next month to grab a slice of the booming Internet equipment market.
The supplier, which built its business on selling desktop PCs, announced a five-point plan yesterday to target the estimated $370bn (£233bn) that companies are expected to spend by 2003 on expanding their Internet infrastructure.
Dell's new PowerApp appliance servers for Web serving, caching and load balancing, will ship with Windows or Linux stacks next month.
Lindy Lesperance, an analyst at Technology Business Research Analysts, said: "Dell typically waits for a market to mature before getting into it. Then it quickly uses its efficient manufacturing and distribution to roll over competitors.
Dell also unveiled its Service Provider Direct initiative, a range of resources and alliances for Internet and application service providers and Web hosting companies.
Michael Dell, founder and chief executive, said: "Direct customer relationships deliver the best customer experience and we don't think there is anything more direct than the Internet."
Scott Dodds, sales director of PC maker Acer, believes Dell has got its strategy wrong. "No one company can provide multi-skilled, multi-disciplined staff in every area," he said. "That is where the channel comes in. Look at Gateway: it went direct and now it has redeveloped its channel partnerships.
It is a myth that Dell can deliver everything. It uses the channel all the time."
Dell has also teamed up with Arthur Andersen and Gen3 Partners to provide a consultancy service, called E'xpert Services, that will offer business expertise for developing and implementing Internet strategies.
The company has also launched Dell Ventures to provide equity investments and incubation services to young companies. At the same time, it launched its Web site, www.delleworks.com, which will provide services such as web hosting, direct mail, email, training and market research.
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