Gateway has axed '2000' from its title before it gets caught out by the millennium, as part of an overall rebranding designed to woo the corporate customer.
The second largest direct PC vendor admits its advertising campaigns have often been too unsophisticated for the corporate buyer and geared more to the home and small business market. Now it aims to change its image, taking advantage of its strong first quarter figures, at a time when many channel based rivals such as Compaq have seen results suffer from inventory build-up.
The new image - which will be enshrined in the shorter name, a new green logo and adverts that emphasise quality and a "competent" aura - is the public face of an overall strategy geared to gaining greater market share among corporates for Gateway's customised PCs and servers.
So far, Gateway's servers have made little headway in this sector against its arch rival Dell. Last week the company announced its Gateway Partners programme with resellers and other partners with expertise in enterprise selling.
Much of the drive behind the changes comes from new president Jeff Weitzen, who joined in January from corporate supplier par excellence, AT&T. He said Gateway wants to emphasise its technological leadership without losing its "approachable, trustworthy and friendly" reputation.
The most famous feature of Gateway ads, its spotted cows, apparently do not do the job - they will disappear, only their spots remaining in the revamped logo.
Another aspect of the change has been a complete retraining of the entire telemarketing team worldwide to emphasise "two-way dialogue with the customer, asking them questions rather than telling them answers", as a representative put it.
Co-founder and chairman Ted Waitt said the '2000' suffix had to go - "We started putting 2000 at the end of our name. That was in 1985 and it seemed very futuristic," he told US journalists.
Gateway saw its first quarter shipments of PCs rise by 38 per cent, with sales up 22 per cent to $1.7 billion and its net income up 12 per cent to $75.9 million. Gross margins were at a record level of 19.5 per cent while average unit prices fell 12 per cent. While other companies suffer from inventory excesses, Waitt boasted Gateway had made 26 inventory turns in the quarter, a record turnaround of stock.
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