Mitsubishi Electric Corp’s Personal Computer division is throwing all its weight behind a new bold, internet-based initiative to get small and medium-sized businesses onto the net for free as part of its ‘computers for a connected world’ strategy which is backed up by a range of new personal computers, servers, internet services and support. Starting in the UK, the company is offering to put the whole of UK business online, by initially offering a free web presence to any company which attends its seminars on the benefits of the web to business. The seminars will be held in conjunction with the company’s accredited resellers and the Department of Trade and Industry under its ‘Net Profit’ scheme. Mitsubishi will invest in the infrastructure to put all of the Department of Trade’s Business Links centers onto the internet, and will host the seminars in these regional small business centers, at which any company will be able to sign up to have its own web page, specially designed and hosted for it free of charge. Companies that sign up will also be able to receive electronic mail through the equipment at the Business Links centers, without even having their own computer hardware. Mitsubishi estimates it will invest around 500,000 pounds in this initiative, and the obvious pay-back will come when these companies see the benefits of a web presence and hopefully come to Mitsubishi for hardware, software and internet services. Dr Peter Horne, president of the Personal Computer Business division, believes all computers will eventually be connected and the internet will be fundamental to what is delivered to the desktop.
Massive sales channel
The company says it is starting from the bottom up with the small business, anything from sole trader upwards. It reckons at the moment, only 20% to 25% of small businesses that have computers are actually connected. Horne says the internet is currently a massive channel for companies to market themselves, but soon it will become a massive sales channel as well. For the consumer market, the company has launched a new range of personal computers, the Apricot MS series, all of which come with a year’s free unlimited internet access, five electronic mail addresses and five hosted internet web pages. It also includes membership of the Mitsubishi club, which offers among other things 10 hours free telephone calls with British Telecommunications Plc’s Talktime. Because Mitsubishi has its own internet infrastructure, it says it has the control to make setting up internet access as simple as plugging in to a phone line and three clicks of the mouse. The company has also announced a new range of managed PCs, the LS range, which it says were designed from the ground up to be connected to networks and incorporate systems management features that enable support and management costs to be reduced. The company has also enhanced its server range with a ‘sub-entry level’ offering, the FT600, for 1,300 pounds, aimed at small companies requiring network servers. Businesses are offered a choice of three internet access options, depending on the level of service required. The advantage server for example, aimed at two to five computers, offers 20 hours a month for a year for 500 pounds.
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