Gateway Rolls Out Hardware, Recruits VARs

Gateway's hardware announcements this week include the RAID-capable 9415 server and the M680C wide-screen notebook PC; meanwhile, the longtime direct-sales specialist is trying to attract SMB resellers. (CIO Insight)

Gateway this week rolled out a new two-processor server and wide-screen laptop PCs, at the same time actively trying to recruit more VARs to sell to SMBs. But some resellers say low-priced hardware alone wont be enough to sway them to work with someone they view as a longtime competitor to the channel.

Gateway Inc., well known for its direct-sales approach, has now paid $5,000 to the OPDA (Office Product Dealers Association) to talk up its newly unveiled M680C laptop, along with its ProNet resellers program, at an April 28 meeting in Las Vegas, said Darren McBride, president of reseller Sierra Computers Ltd.

In addition to the M680C laptop, a 17-inch wide-screen laptop priced starting at $1,399.99, the vendor this week also announced the Gateway 9415, an Intel 64-bit Xeon-based two-processor server with RAID 5 support, priced at $1,199 and up.

"Its going to be a tough sell for Gateway, though, because Gateways been cutting out the channel for so long," McBride told Channel Insider.

"[But] resellers are Gateways key to the small business market. Gateway can do fine on its own with medium and large businesses—yet without us, theyre just not going to get into the market of 50 seats or smaller."

Some other VARs echoed similar sentiments about Gateway. "Theyve never been among my favorite people. Theyve never wanted us before. But Ive been watching Gateway [retail] stores close down, and I think Gateway could benefit from people like us," said Bob Parsons, president of Automated Office Solutions.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about Gateways retail moves.

But some VARs also indicated that they might be willing to change their minds, if Gateway shapes a reseller program that will meet their needs. In interviews with The Channel Insider, resellers mentioned wish list items ranging from double-digit margins to high-quality tech support, effective marketing campaigns, and products available exclusively through the channel.

Beyond Gateways scheduled appearance at OPDA later this month, Gateway has been romancing some resellers through its regional sales reps, according to McBride. The OPDA, a nationwide consortium of about 35 regional VARs, represents total sales that some estimate at $300 million.

McBride said that, meanwhile, Sierra has been approached by Gateway to "fill in the gaps" of its current lineup with the new M680 and other Gateway laptops, "all-in-one" machines, and wireless touch-pads, especially for sales in the medical market.

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