BT curries SME favour with HP sauce

Big names hope to lure small businesses online

Hewlett Packard and BT are launching a range of PCs aimed at Internet novices in the SME market. The two giants will offer Web-ready HP Brio PCs to small businesses from 1 October. The machines form a package that promises to hold SMEs' hands and take them through using the Internet step by step. The five models are priced from £529 + VAT to £999 + VAT. The entry level HP Brio BA400 comes with Celeron 433MHz, 32MB SDRAM, 4.3GB hard drive and Windows 98. Top of the range is the Brio BA600, with Pentium III 550MHz, 128MB SDRAM, 8.4GB hard drive, Matrox Millennium G200 graphics and Windows 98. All machines come with monthly payment options spread over three years. Upgrades will be available after 18, 24 or 36 months, and HP will take back and recycle any unwanted kit after it is upgraded. The PCs are also ready for ADSL. All the PCs come with software to help Internet virgins. They have a Reuters news feed, information on travel and events - such as trade shows - and offer the user a free domain name. The Trellix Web design package is included to talk users through setting up a Web site. There is legal advice and a credit check facility for companies – which are optional and charged for. BT said 66 per cent of the estimated 1.2 million SMEs in the UK were not online. And over 75 per cent of those not connected were still without the correct kit to get started. Bill Hill, HP UK SMB manager, said the new PCs were aimed at businesses who had no experience of cyberspace. "The PCs will take you through the Web step by step. Today's announcement provides an easy, affordable solution for hooking up to the Internet." Grant Broster, head of BT's Internet for business division, said: "This offer will create a very reliable platform for SMBs, and will be low risk due to the established brand names of HP and BT." ®

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