Tech Trends: A PC loaded with bells and whistles
If you are a techie with money, Dell wants your business. The company that made its name selling cheap PCs is going after the luxury retail market with a new line of desktop computers. This fall, Dell will introduce PCs for the technologically savvy consumer who wants all the bells and whistles and is willing to pay for them.
At a time when desktop computers are regularly advertised for under $500, Dell hopes to capture the niche that's willing to pay upwards of $1,200 for more computing power. "There is a segment of the market that wants everything with no hassle, and they have the disposable income to get it," says Michael George, vice president and general manager of Dell's U.S. consumer business. "We will have higher price points but still a great value for what you get."
Dell is also putting a bigger emphasis on its service business by selling tiered levels of maintenance contracts along with its hardware. George says the company is significantly expanding its headcount in services to accommodate the increased levels of help-desk support it will soon offer all its retail customers. For example, Dell owners will be able to arrange for a Dell technician to remotely access their home computers to fix problems or install applications. The company will also make house calls for issues that can't be solved remotely.
As broadband is more widely adopted, support services for home-PC users have become a booming market. On-site support service Geeks on Call doubled its number of franchises during the nine-month period ending February 2005, and Best Buy is rapidly expanding its Geek Squad service centers. Circuit City recently launched its own offering, called IQ Crew, which offers home support in some markets.
"We believe the service market is ripe for a national leader to come in," George says. During its first fiscal quarter this year, Dell's service business grew 30 percent over last year, while its desktop sales grew 6 percent.