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Acer to launch Gateway-branded netbook this year

But needs to launch its desktops and notebooks first

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Acer will finally launch its Gateway branded desktops and notebooks next week, and plans to launch servers and netbooks under the revived badge by the end of the year.

The Taiwanese vendor announced in February that it was reviving the Gateway brand it acquired back in 2007, and said it would ship machines aimed at SMEs and delivered through the channel in March.

However, three months on, it has confirmed that shipments in the UK are unlikely to begin till June. The firm will air its machines next week at Channel Expo, alongside a remote management package it is offering through dealers from Canada-based Level Platforms.

Philip Ashkar, managing director for the UK and Ireland at Gateway, said the products unveiled next week will include 12 inch and 15.4 inch notebooks, an ultra small desktop and a mini tower.

Asked if netbooks - a roaring success for parent brand Acer - would be launched under the Gateway brand, he said the firm expected to launch a netbook aimed at the SME market in the second half of the year.

"The notebook is the device you leave in the office of the home. The netbook is the device you bring around with you," he said. Asked if the vendor was holding off launching an SME flavoured notebook until Windows 7 hits the market he said the timing was "nothing to do” with the much anticipated MS OS.

Ashkar put the delay in getting Gateway up and running down to ironing out the "complexities" of setting up a distribution deal with C2000 throughout Europe, and to perfecting the products for the SME market. For example, he said that research had prompted the firm to ditch much of the usual preloaded software that comes on Acer's mainstream machines, as SMEs would simply wipe it and replace it with their preferred software images.

He denied the current economic turmoil had contributed to the delay. "It is a difficult time, but there are opportunities even in difficult times if you remain focused on the objectives you're after."

The objectives are to sign up 30 to 40 dealers in the UK, all focused on SMEs. Ashkar said no one had signed on the dotted line so far, but that a number of partners were now at the equipment testing stage, while others were assessing the firm's managed services offering. This comes from Canada-based Level Platforms, and Gateway will be the firm's main conduit for selling the service in Europe.

Jeff Campbell, vice president at Level Platforms, said resellers would be free to set the price for the service for their end users. He said the service would inventory their customers' IT assets and offer constant remote monitoring of their systems, as well as patch management.

The service would deliver alerts on customers' problems, so resellers would be able to offer a better service and provide a basis for higher value consulting services. It would also make it easier for resellers to show customers when and where systems needed upgrading. ®

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