Hewlett Packard announced at the PC Expo show this week that it will sell PCs via kiosks at Circuit City Stores located across the US.
No equivalent deals have been signed in Europe but an HP source said the company would be keen on these, once kiosk technology becomes more mainstream in the region's high streets.
Circuit City sells PCs and consumer electronics, and over the past three months it has opened a number of new outlets, including the 15th Superstore in the New York, along with the first superstores in Idaho, Indiana and Colorado.
It might bring tears of envy to hard pressed PC manufacturers trying to resolve their inventory problems, but Circuit Stores recently announced a first quarter 24 per cent gross profit margin, saying that sales from store operations exceeded expectations, due in no small part to "effective inventory management and lower buying costs".
From August, Circuit City kiosks will market customisable PCs from Compaq, IBM and Hewlett Packard, alongside more expensive fully configured systems on the shop floor.
Direct vendors like Dell Computer build to order, avoiding the inventory problems faced by traditional manufacturers, but it remains to be seen if this new approach will alleviate, exacerbate or merely highlight the ongoing stock problems.
US prices are falling so sharply that an expected 14 per cent upturn in demand, forecast earlier this week by IDC, is cold comfort to those manufacturers suffering from plummeting margins.
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