Dell to sell TVs, hi-fi, etc.

Planning to move into brown goods

Dell is to branch out even further into consumer electronics goods, the company's COO said yesterday.

The scheme, which echoes recent moves in that direction by Gateway, will see the PC maker add flat-panel TVs to its current plasma screen business. Other consumer electronics products will follow: "It's [just] a matter of time before we evolve into a broader range of consumer electronics products," said Dell COO, Kevin Rollins, yesterday.

Rollins didn't say when the first step, to offer flat-screen TVs, would take place, but it's not likely to be far away. "We have not confirmed it," he said, "but my guess is we'll be in it within a reasonably short period of time."

Putting the scheme in place in time for the US Thanksgiving and Christmas sales period would meet such a deadline.

Rollins discussed the move as a logical extension of the increasing convergence between the PC and home entertainment systems. Not only is the computer being touted as a 'digital hub' for the management of users' snapshots and home movies, but as the recording and movie industries slowly wake up to the commercial possibilities of the Internet as a delivery medium, the PC will play a greater role as the heart of home entertainment rigs.

"We are looking at a lot of opportunities to extend the use of the PC for home," said Rollins.

This week, Forrester Research, reiterated its view that physical media will soon be redundant, replaced by online archives from which listeners and viewers can select content on demand and have it billed automatically and behind-the-scenes to a credit card, cable TV or mobile phone account.

More prosaically, with business interest in PC purchasing diminished, companies like Dell and Gateway are looking for alternative revenue streams and ways of growing the business beyond its computing niche. The consumer electronics market is one such option. ®