Compaq is splitting its corporate Deskpro PC line into two, in response to a perceived divergence in the market.
Compaq's research found that some customers want consistent products to minimise the life cycle cost associated with supporting the installed base, while others want new technology as soon as it is available.
Dubbed Deskpro EP and Deskpro EN, the two new series of PC aim to cater for both types of user. Products in the new ranges, launched yesterday, include a Deskpro EP with a 266MHz Celeron processor, and the Deskpro EN 6400 with a 400MHz Pentium II chip.
The EP line will bring new technology to the market faster, in life cycles of less than six months, Compaq claimed.
In contrast, the EN series will provide consistent specifications, added "intelligent" managability in nine-to-12 month life cycles, but at a higher price.
Customers buying the EN line would make savings on manageability in the long term, according to James Griffiths, senior desktop product manager at Compaq. "Enterprise customers have continually highlighted how important product consistency and longer product life cycles are in helping them minimise the costs in installing, managing and servicing networked PCs," he said.
Although the move to split corporate PC lines has been in the pipeline for some time, it is not certain whether the market will accept the difference between the two product series, said Simon Pearce, an analyst at IDC.
"This is a bit of a test," he said. "It comes down to whether people are prepared to pay more money for the managability features offered or whether they will expect manageability at a cheaper price. It has yet to be proved whether the key differences will be recognised by customers."
Pearce expects other vendors to follow Compaq's move.
The EN series offers tool-free access, a tilt drive cage for easy access to devices and diagnostic LEDs that indicate that memory and expansion cards are inserted properly - features lacking in the EP line. The EN line will incorporate secondary technologies, such as removable storage and audio devices, only when they become mainstream.
The EN Deskpro line will also offer small form factors from August this year.
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