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Hewlett-Packard Co yesterday announced new strategies for its personal computer business which it believes can move it past Compaq Computer Corp and IBM Corp into worldwide market leadership by 2000. Jacques Clay, VP and general manager of HP’s Commercial PC Business said the company will develop products focused on more specific markets – especially the consumer and small business markets. HP will also implement new ways of selling its products, including enabling customers to configure custom systems. To that end, HP introduced the Kayak PCs for high-performance business and technical users (see separate story this section) and foreshadowed the Brio line of PCs for small businesses, the first of which should be launched in a few weeks. The established Vectra line will be marketed mainly to large corporate customers. On the mobile front, HP is working with Mitsubishi Electronics Corp to develop new super thin and light notebooks and palmtop PCs for launch next year. Clay also outlined HP’s new Extended Solutions Partnership (ESP) Program which is intended to streamline the supply chain, echoing Compaq’s moves in July (CI No 3,201). But, like Compaq, HP was quick to stress that it will continue to fully rely on the indirect channel. The ESP model, due for rollout in the fourth quarter, will feature a channel assembly program which gives customers the opportunity to custom design the PCs they purchase. Ten of HP’s channel partners have already signed on for the channel assembly program, including Ingram Micro, Merisel, MicroAge, Tech Data and Vanstar. Other facets of ESP include the vendor express program for large businesses and the economy program for consumers, both of which are intended to cut cost and delivery time of PCs with more standard configurations and traditional software bundles. HP also discussed its electronic commerce plan, with the proposed opening of the HP Mall website in October, where customers can choose preconfigured or custom systems, which are then built and shipped by the channel. The website will allow for customers to manage their accounts electronically, which goes hand-in hand with HP’s new financing options for small and medium businesses. Hardware, software and services financing will now be available for payment – over one to five year periods – of orders up to $100,000. As the last order of the day, Clay discussed a web-based version of the HP TopTools remote management software, which will work across various network management platforms offered by Tivoli, CA, Intel and Microsoft. A further announcement on that is due later in the month.


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CBR Staff Writer

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