Gateway Inc. is looking to expand its commercial business by targeting smaller customers. The Irvine, Calif., computer maker kicked off the initiative last week with the release of a low-end server and a new line of desktop and notebook PCs armed with features that officials say are needed by small businesses with little or no IT staff.
In addition, Gateway is wrapping services around the offerings and this month will begin adding features to its Web site to grow it from simply a place to buy products to a destination for technology information.
Over the past six months, Gateway officials have been talking to small businesses—those with as many as 99 employees—about their technology needs. Key among those needs are good prices, a set of business features—such as 64-bit computing—and services, said Dan Stevenson, vice president of Gateways direct business.
"The small-business types dont have an IT department," Stevenson said. "Its either the business owner or some other employee thats wearing multiple hats."
Gateway last week rolled out the first of its small-business products, including the new S Series line of desktops and notebooks. The desktops feature the cooler-running and quieter BTX design and a toolless chassis, making it easier for businesses to maintain them. The systems also offer a range of Intel Corp. processors, from the low-end Celeron to the dual-core Pentium D.
The two S Series notebooks offer wide-screen displays ranging from 14 to 17 inches, a magnesium alloy casing for durability and shared components. The new E-9920T server also features the BTX design, a choice of chips and redundant power capabilities.
In addition, Gateway is offering an array of services, said Gabriel Rizzi, senior director of Gateways small-business unit. For example, Gateway will send representatives on-site to evaluate a businesss IT needs, make recommendations and estimate the cost. Most competitors dont offer such on-site help, Rizzi said. A service for the S Series systems is BigFix, which automatically sends messages regarding updates, patches and general maintenance.
Over the next few weeks, Gateway also will begin bulking up its Web site with modules offering educational resources and case studies.
Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates Inc., said Gateway needs to expand its professional business if its going to grow and that the small-business segment is underserved.
"The bad news is that its hard to get to them," said Kay in Wayland, Mass. "The good news is that theyre not overexploited because theyre hard to get to."
The key for Gateway will be services. "None of those [product features is] specific to small businesses," he said. "Everyone can benefit from BTX. The services are something they can target to small businesses. This is imperative for Gateway."
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