Dell Disses Music Player Chatter

SAN FRANCISCO — Dell, struggling to recharge its lineup of consumer product offerings, indicated Monday that a digital music player is not in the computer maker’s near-term plans despite speculation that such a product is in the works.

Although Dell declined to comment specifically, the company said in a blog posting that its digital entertainment strategy “has never been about a music player.”

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources, reported earlier Monday that Dell has decided to postpone the launch of a music player.

“As we said a few months ago, our strategy focuses on content offerings and delivery platforms that mix Zing software, remote access and pre-configured media bundles across all of our devices, including licensing agreements with entertainment distributors,” the blog posting said.

In 2007 Dell acquired Zing, whose software allows handheld devices to receive streaming audio and video feeds wirelessly. The acquisition spurred speculation that the company was set to have another go at the music player market, which it abandoned in 2006 after failing to find any success against Apple Inc and its iPod family.

There were other hints that Dell was interested in relaunching a music player. The company has been increasing its presence at rock festivals, seeking to promote its brand among music-lovers and the consumer public in general.

Dell and much of the personal computer industry is confronting the prospect of a bleak holiday season. Last month, the company said it was seeing soft demand for PCs as the global economy slows.

Dell is the world’s second largest computer company by units shipped, although third-ranked Acer Inc is gaining ground fast on the strength of its netbook offerings. which Dell has been slower to embrace.

The Round Rock, Texas-based company has been retooling its operations to confront slower demand. In August Dell said it had slashed 8,500 jobs out of a planned 8,900 headcount reduction.

Shares of Dell closed down 69 cents, or 5.5 percent, at $11.86 on Nasdaq yesterday.

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