MPC Expands Beyond The Desktop

 
 
By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2003-05-02
 
 
 

MPC Expands Beyond The Desktop


LAS VEGAS—For MPC Computers LLC, the story line is rapidly becoming more than simply computers.

Less than two years ago, the company—formerly MicronPC—was bleeding money. But it recently wrapped up its sixth consecutive profitable quarter since being acquired by the Gores Technology Group, and is using the money its earning to quickly expand its product offerings beyond the desktop.

Most significantly, the Nampa, Idaho, company will have a complete line of storage products by the end of the current quarter, and this month a laptop offering based on Intel Corp.s recently released Centrino mobile computing package.

In an interview at the Networld+Interop conference here this week, MPC officials also said they will continue to expand their rejuvenated server offerings as that product line comes in sync with Intels upgrade cycle.

And while the company will continue upgrading its enterprise ClientPro desktops to keep up with Intel technology, MPC officials expect PCs to incrementally become a smaller part of the companys overall portfolio.

MPCs move away from PCs is similar to what Gateway Inc. is trying accomplish as it expands its non-desktop offerings, such as servers and plasma TVs.

But while Gateway continues to find its way, MPC officials say they are moving down a well-defined path that includes a narrow target segment—mid-sized businesses with 500 to 3,000 employees and governmental agencies—and service and support that they say differentiates MPC from its primary competitor, Dell Computer Corp. For example, MPC assigns a dedicated support staff member to each customer, so that users are always talking to the same person when problems arise.

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It was that type of service that attracted Wiss Janney Elstner Associates Inc. and made the company an MPC customer almost three years ago. Support is making Wiss Janney bring in MPC servers and look at MPC storage, as well. Ray Jaskot, information systems manager at the Chicago-based architectural engineering firm, said when Wiss Janney sought bids for PCs, it asked vendors to remove Microsoft Office from the machines. Dell said it could do that, but would still charge the firm for the software.

"MPC came back with an offer customized to what we needed," Jaskot said, adding that the support from the company since has been good. "Weve been happy with the service and responsiveness over the years, and thats why weve stayed with them."

MPC is planning on following that game plan as it broadens its product line.

"We have built a strong operating model and are one of the very few profitable companies in the PC business," said CEO Mike Adkins. "We are entering in the external storage market as a direct result of our customers demand."

In mid-May, the company will roll out the DataFrame 310fc, a Fibre Channel storage device that can scale up to 16.6TB of stored data per system in either a 3U rack or pedestal chassis and will feature up to 512MB of cache and 14 hot-swap drives. It also will include Spheras Storage Director and PathPilot management software from Eurologic Systems—which is being bought by Adaptec Inc.—and will enable users to cluster up to four systems at a time. It will complement the DataFrame 310s, an Ultra320 SCSI model that was unveiled April 21.

On the mobile computing side, MPC this month will unveil its TransPort T2100 notebook, which will feature Intels Centrino package—which includes its Pentium-M chip, accompanying 855 chip set family and a WiFi module, the PRO/Wireless 2100 Network Connection—a 14-inch screen and 8x AGP graphics. The system, built by MiTech, also will have integrated biometric security and three USB 2.0 ports. In addition, MPC officials said this month they will roll out the Transport T2000 thin-and-light two-spindle notebook built by Samsung Electronics Co. and powered by Intel Pentium4-M chips up to 2.6GHz.

In the second half of the year, MPC will launch a tablet PC, they said.

In the first four months of this year, MPC released five servers, and this summer will launch another one, the NetFrame 600, which will feature up to two 2.8GHz Intel Xeon chips, Intels hyperthreading technology, up to 8GB of RAM and up to five Serial ATA or SCSI hard drives.

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