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Without giving up its direct-seller roots, high-end PC maker Alienware is considering expanding its nascent brick-and-mortar retail effort to include more mall-based kiosks and potentially in-line mall stores.
Alienware is so pleased with the success of its Dadeland Mall, Dadeland, Fla., kiosk that opened late last year that the company is planning to open more across the country and expand its retail footprint in some locations to include in-line style stores. Mark Vena, marketing VP, thought several kiosks could be opened in the coming months along with an unidentified number of in-line stores that would resemble the freestanding Sunglass Hut-type locations found in malls.
“We don't want to go down the traditional retail store path,” said Vena.
Alienware came to the conclusion that a slightly larger format store will be needed to hold a limited amount of inventory. The Dadeland kiosk was originally intended as just a showcase with the added ability to place online orders for customers, but this was expanded during the test program to include selling preconfigured notebooks and a small number of peripherals. The company ended up keeping about 10 notebooks in stock at the kiosk for customers.
“A biggest surprise with the kiosk was the number of people who wanted to walk away with a purchase,” said Kevin Wasielewski, Alienware's business development director.
The kiosks will be based on the 10-foot by 12-foot pilot model at Dadeland, but will vary in size depending upon the mall, Wasielewski said. The larger format will have more inventory capacity, but, said only notebooks and smaller products will be kept on site.
The future facilities will be placed in upscale malls similar to Dadeland.
In product news, Alienware upgraded several product categories during the past week, adding the latest Intel chipset and ATI's latest graphics card to its Area 51 and ALX PC lines along with offering a new mobile hard drive for its notebooks.
The Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 955 with HyperThreading Technology will become an option on Alienware's Area 51 7500 and ALX lines, which are targeted at high-end gamers, multimedia users and professionals. The 955 chipset allows the users to create “virtual” partitions to allocate PC resources to different tasks. This will enable the computer to run processor-intensive programs, such as games or graphics, while running another program, like a virus scan, in the background, the company said.
Seagate's 160GB Momentus 5400.3 hard drives are the first used by Alienware to incorporate perpendicular recording technology. The drive is available on the company's Area 51 m7700, 5500 and Sentia m3200 notebooks. The m7700 can be configured to contain dual Momentus drives.
The graphic card changes include featuring the ATI Radeon X1900 card on Alienware's Area 51 7500 and Aurora 7500 lines. The X1900 features 48 Shader processors that work with Shader Model 3.0 for better 3D rendering and includes Avivo video and display technology to deliver HDTV quality images. In addition the Aurora is now available with ATI's Crossfire technology allowing dual ATI processors to work together in a single PC.
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