Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Dell to Enter MP3 marketplace?

From Cnet

"The PC maker is preparing to unveil a new consumer-electronics plan under which it will sell two types of devices--a portable music player and a line of LCD TVs--under its brand name for the holidays.

Outside of computers, Dell has put its name on only a limited number of product categories, such as printers, network switches, projectors and USB storage devices. But Dell, which uses its online store to sell a large quantity of consumer-electronics products from other companies, asserts that offering such devices under its own name can help it meet revenue goals.

Round Rock, Texas-based Dell is expected to discuss its latest consumer-electronics plans Thursday during a press conference, where it will also outline an upgrade to its online store and touch on new Axim handhelds.

One of its first new consumer-electronics devices will be a hard drive-based portable MP3 player, sources familiar with Dell's plans said. The player, which is expected to include a 15GB drive, will compete with others in the market, most notably Apple Computer's iPod. Dell sells the iPod via its online store and is expected to continue doing so after the debut of Dell's own player.

The company's LCD TVs are likely to include a 17-inch model and a 30-inch model. Dell is also expected to continue selling LCD TVs from other companies.

Dell's new products are expected to ship in October or early November.

The company is not likely to unveil many other details about the devices--or of any other new products it intends to offer--during the press conference.

However, Dell is expected to reveal that it is working on two new Axim handhelds. Dell's new Axims are likely to include a slimmer model, dubbed the Axim X3, and a new wireless model.

Dell representatives declined to comment on the new products. But senior executives, including CEO Michael Dell and President Kevin Rollins, have indicated the company's interest in music players, wireless handhelds and LCD TVs several times in the past.

Expanding its sales of consumer electronics is one area the company can tap to further its goal of boosting revenue to the $60 billion mark over the next few years.

Although Dell will seek to mine the consumer-electronics market, it's unlikely that the company's efforts will be as broad as competitors such as Gateway, which plans 50 new products this year--most of them consumer-electronics devices.

But analyst say that doesn't necessarily put Dell at a disadvantage. Where Gateway has introduced several new Plasma TVs, LCD TVs and even a music player this fall, Dell is eyeing areas such as TVs as a new profit pool that could augment its already substantial revenue and boost profits with little risk to the rest of its business."

More and more handheld MP3 players are coming out with large hard drives which could store hundreds of audiobooks. The Otis player has 64 MB, which will store 1-2 books, depending on the length of the book. Some talking book readers would like large hard drives where they could store a number of books at one time. The Ipod, which is Audible.com ready was the first MP3 player to come with a large hard drive. More and more are being introduced in the market which is a plus for audiobook and music listeners. When will this technology come to the PDA?

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