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HP comes over all aggressive with direct PC sales

Brio will be offered over the Web

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Hewlett-Packard (HP) plans to adopt a more aggressive sales approach which will see the vendor sell its Brio PC range direct over the Web. The vendor has said it will actively seek contact with its customers and that it will shift its emphasis away from PC product development to sales and support. HP’s critics have accused the company of complacency, alleging it had assumed it would easily take custom from a confused post-acquisition Compaq/Digital. This has not been the case. The Brio-over-the-Web scheme will run in the US initially, but HP has not ruled out introducing it to Europe. Jean-Jacques Ozil, Brio marketing manager, said: "We have no intent to go direct in Europe in the short term but we will be monitoring customer response in the US." Ozil said that by short-term he meant the remainder of this year. CSL analyst Clive Longbottom said HP is suffering from the problems effecting all indirect sellers. Longbottom said: "HP tried a misguided attempt to show the Compaq/Digital merger wasn’t going to work. It wanted to show it had improved margins, and to do this it cut off communications with customers and the channel to cut costs. Meanwhile, sales plummeted and the Digital integration into Compaq went much more smoothly than was expected." Longbottom said this put HP in a weak position at the start of 1999, and the company needs to get back on track. "They need to get back to their grass roots - encouraging corporate buyers to take HP against Dell or Compaq - the margins are still higher here, and the purchase volumes are 100s or 1000s, as opposed to the high cost 1-1 sell." Next month HP is expected to launch a personalised communication service for the channel - Electronic Solution News, or ESN - providing personalised electronic communication. ®

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