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 user 2007-04-12 at 4:30:00 pm Views: 67
  • #17601

    Dell’s next step: Selling printers
    Having already diversified into the storage and switch markets, Dell is
    taking its direct sales approach in yet another new direction: printers.

    Last week the company unveiled four Dell-branded printers, all made by Lexmark,
    for consumer and workgroup use. The company also launched a program for users
    to buy ink and toner cartridges from the Dell Web site.

    While analysts say
    the decision to enter the printer business is a good one for Dell, they believe
    it will take some time before the leading PC-maker will gain inroads into that
    highly competitive market.

    “It’s a
    long-term play. It’s a big trial, and Dell is taking a very measured
    approach,” says Peter Grant, principal analyst at Gartner.

    Grant says the printer market historically has been about innovation, and
    companies such as market leader HP hold hundreds of printing and imaging
    patents. Dell, meanwhile, is banking on its customer service.

    Tim Peters, vice president and general manager of Dell Imaging and Printing,
    says printer software that alerts users to low ink levels and directs them to
    the Dell Web site and the exact refill they need is just one way that the
    company is setting itself apart.

    Dell also offers 24-7 toll-free tech support and a base warranty with its
    workgroup printer that includes next-day on-site maintenance.

    Analysts say the idea is to bundle printers with Dell’s other products and
    create an installed base that will bring Dell recurring, higher-margin revenue
    from the printing supplies business.

    David Bobzien, regional technology manager at commercial real estate firm
    Colliers International in Seattle, says he wouldn’t hesitate to purchase a Dell
    printer. Bobzien uses desktops, notebooks, servers and enterprise switches from

    “Are they positioned to compete with companies
    like HP? In time. As with their switches, it simply takes a little time, word
    of mouth, and things will fall in place,” Bobzien says