Gateway to Parade Remodeled Stores, Notebook Duo

At a N.Y. event, Gateway is showing off the remodeling it did to its stores in an effort to attract SMB customers, as well as two new notebooks.

Gateway Inc. officials on Tuesday will be in New York touting the remodeling of their almost 190 stores and unveiling two new notebooks, all part of their push to grow the company from being a PC manufacturer to a branded integrator.

Gateway, of Poway, Calif., has been remodeling the stores as part of a push to make them more attractive to both consumers and small and midsize business customers, enabling them to not only see and touch the products but also to learn how they can be integrated together to create a complete technology solution, officials said.

The Gateway Country Stores are a differentiator for the company, officials said. Talking with analysts late last month, Chairman and CEO Ted Waitt said the stores will give Gateway a jump over other competitors, such as Dell Inc., trying to move into the consumer electronics space. "A lot of these products are things people need to feel, see and touch," Waitt said.

But the stores—which have been reduced from more than 220 last year—also are a financial risk, giving Gateway overhead costs that other competitors dont have to worry about. Brooks Gray, an analyst with Technology Business Research Inc., said the stores can be advantage if done right.

"They need to be more selective with the number of stores they want to operate," said Gray, in Hampton, N.H. "But its a good differentiator, particularly as people move to a more complex home infrastructure."

The stores—which officials say are responsible for about 40 percent of Gateway revenues—also give IT administrators at smaller businesses the chance to check out the various servers, storage devices and PCs that Gateway is rolling out as it tries to attract a wider enterprise customer base.

The stores also feature training and services to customers, officials said.

Late last year, Gateway announced that the stores would play a central role in a grid computing initiative in which the company would tie together the collected computing power of the display PCs that currently sit on the shelves. Enterprises looking for a boost of computing power for their projects can tap into Gateways grid.

/zimages/3/28571.gifRead "Gateway Gears Up Grid Computing Push."

Also at the event on Tuesday, Gateway will roll out the Gateway 675, a desktop replacement notebook powered by Intel Corp.s Pentium 4 and featuring Hyper-Threading technology designed to increase application performance by as much as 30 percent. The notebook, with a 17.1-inch wide-format display, also offers built-in 802.11g/b or a/g/b wireless connectivity and 10/100/1,000 Gigabit Ethernet capabilities. It has an 8X AGP graphics offering and a port replicator to increase flexibility. Pricing for the 675 starts at $1,999.

Also on display will be the M275 convertible tablet PC, with a 14.1-inch display and Intels Centrino mobile computing platform. The computer, which weighs about 5.7 pounds and offers 4.5 hours of battery life, also offers two USB 2.0 ports, an optional port replicator and up to 1,024MB of memory.

Starting price for the M275 is $1,799.