Dell is planning a two-pronged attack on the notebook market with new high-end products and budget machines.
The move extends Dell beyond its traditional focus on mid-range, high-volume products.
With its Latitude CPT 333 GT, Dell hopes to differentiate itself from other vendors offering Celeron-powered machines in the sub-#1,500 market by offering standard docking stations and peripherals that will be maintained for at least two years.
Toward the end of the year, the vendor plans to offer thin and light notebooks that will extend its reach into the high-end market, to compete with products such as the IBM 770. These products will share the same standards as other corporate models.
"We have succeeded in the core (#1,500 to #2,500) of the notebook market, but we recognise that there are segments that we haven't played in that look like successful, sustainable markets," explained Murray McKerlie, regional product marketing manager for notebooks at Dell.
Dell has prided itself on bringing products to markets at a lower price than competitors, mainly by creating economies of scale by concentrating on volume products and ignoring niche products.
For example, Dell told PC Week that it will remain out of the Windows CE market until volumes increase.
But Dell could be losing corporate bids because it cannot offer the breadth of product portfolio of other vendors. "There is a trend among corporate customers to select one or two preferred vendors," said George O'Connor, research manager at the Granville analyst firm in the City. "Dell may have to offer full lines to become a preferred vendor or the customer may go to someone like HP."
The Latitude CPT with 333MHz Celeron and 14in TFT screen will be on sale from this week at a list price of #1,265.
Dell said it will also announce next week plans to become the first of the established vendors to launch a filer product for network attached storage.
The PowerVault Filer family, based on technology from Network Appliance, will allow customers to use a single storage box concurrently with Unix, NT and NetWare servers.
The difference between Network Attached Storage (NAS) and the Dell-sold SAN is that the Filer attaches to the existing LAN. SANs link the servers with an entirely different network dedicated only to storage and usually based on fibre optics.
The main advantage of NAS is that it uses standard network protocols and can be implemented with reasonable ease by an experienced IT manager; the main problem with NAS is that it could put additional stress on overworked networks, said Claus Egge, IDC storage analyst.
"People are not screaming out for SANs. Dell probably needs more to provide an NAS. It's not a bad product and stands out, with many unique features," Egge said.
General availability is expected in June.
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