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Dell quits 'white box' PC biz

'Punters want our name on the front'

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Dell will no longer sell resellers unbranded PCs, and hasn't offered any so-called 'white box' machines since the beginning of the year, the PC giant has admitted.

The bottom line: customers prefer computers with the Dell name on the front, not someone else's, the company said - or rather, it would prefer buyers to have a Dell-branded machine, whether that box has come direct from the manufacturer or is sold by a value-added reseller.

"We end-of-lifed the white-box line earlier this year based on customer preference for Dell-branded products," said a Dell spokesman, cited in a Cnet report.

"We are still offering the full line of Dell-branded and third-party products to solution providers that add value to our customers."

Dell launched the line of unbranded machines in August 2002, allowing resellers to add extra components and slap their own name on the front. With a growing number of computer dealers choosing to assemble their own systems, or turning to ODMs to do it for them, Dell felt here was a sales opportunity it could not afford to miss.

If someone's going to buy a no-name machine from a dealer rather than purchase from Dell direct, better that computer originated on a Dell assembly line, went its train of thought.

Not any longer. Prices have fallen and Dell's brand has grown in strength to the point where the company no longer considers it worthwhile offering machines other vendors will badge.

Indeed, it's getting harder for the system assemblers to compete with Dell's volume-led pricing unless they target niche markets, such as gamers. The economics and volumes of the white-box world increasingly favour system builders rather than re-badgers, and they're clearly more interested in bare-bones systems they can provision themselves rather than finished rigs. ®

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