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Hewlett-Packard will start selling PCs direct to business customers in the US today. The US vendor will sell directly through its Web site to corporate customers and the SMB market. Servers, desktops, notebooks and handhelds will all be sold direct. It has been shifting consumer PCs and computer products over the Internet in the US for around 16 months. Today's move will put it in competition with the likes of Dell and Compaq, in an area where HP has traditionally leant on its resellers. An HP representative told The Register there were no plans at present to sell direct to corporates in the UK. However, there will be a pilot site selling direct to the consumer market in Europe launched at the end of this month. Regarding the Web site for US customers, he said: "This is what the market is asking for. HP customers see what Dell has done, and are demanding it from us." HP will not cut its dealers out of the equation completely, but will let them compete for HP's business. Customers can order directly from the HP Web site or follow a link to a list of recommended local dealers. For larger volume orders, HP will work behind the scenes with systems integrators. This is similar to its approach to selling direct to consumers, where its direct online sales compete with retailers. HP said it was forced to offer the service in light of Dell's success with its Gigabuys Web site. It wanted to catch those SMBs that would otherwise use direct vendor Dell. ®

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