RealTime IT News

Dell Eyes Consumer Electronics Market

Thinking outside the computer box, Dell is reportedly readying a consumer electronics push that may add flat-panel TVs and digital music players to its offerings.

The Round Rock, Texas, computer giant already offers printers, handhelds and monitors. It also resells Olympus and Canon digital cameras and videocams through its Web site.

CEO Michael Dell and chief marketing officer Mike George will discuss products and the company's new online storefront in a conference call with reporters tomorrow. A Dell spokeswoman declined comment.

For months, rumors have swirled about the PC maker's expansion into new markets. Executives have remained tight-lipped on specifics without denying interest in the market.

For example, at TechXNY trade show last week, president and COO Kevin B. Rollins, demurred when asked about consumer electronics, but noted that Dell saw PCs becoming an instrumental part of consumers' living rooms.

Like other PC makers, Dell wants to diversify and boost revenues. It recently upped its offerings in the switch market to boost sales to business that are already using its PCs, laptops and servers.

But reaching down to the consumer market, though increasingly crowded, is a good fit with its direct sales model, experts say. Plus, the company has built up a strong name with consumers.

Rival Gateway has also been courting consumers with new offerings. For example, the Poway, Calif., company last month started sell digital cameras through retailers and its Web site and introduced flat-screen plasma TVs.

A Gateway spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

And IBM last week rebranded a line of PCs with the goal of winning more consumer customers.

It's not just PC makers that see the value in pushing into the consumer market. Most notably, enterprise networking giant Cisco Systems bought wireless home networking leader Linksys for $500 million earlier this year.