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Dell Outlines CE Product Strategy

Dell CEO Michael Dell said his company is entering the CE category this year, starting a music download service and revamping its online store, yet he gave few details on the actual plans during a press briefing last Thursday.

Dell refused to answer questions concerning the music service and kept quiet on pricing and the exact availability dates of all the products. He did say the products will be out for the holiday selling period.

Dell introduced three CE products: the W1700 17-inch LCD high-definition TV; Dell (DJ) Digital Jukebox portable hard-drive-based music player, the Axim X3 PDA; and the Dell M2200MP home theater projector. In addition, the company unveiled the Dimension XPS gaming PC, Dell Media Experience software and the Dell Music Store. A revamped Web store was also demonstrated.

“We are here to officially confirm our entry into the CE category and open,” he said, adding that the computer will still be the centerpiece of Dell’s consumer offerings and the hub in its vision of the digital home.

Dell said these additions, plus those that follow, would not alter the percentage of sales Dell gains from consumer sales, which are responsible for about 18 percent of Dell’s bottom line.

The iPod-like DJ device will be able to download music from a PC or through Dell’s upcoming Music Store. Dell would not give any details on which music content providers the company is working with, nor how much a download will cost, other than that it would be comparable to the competition. Apple charges about 99 cents a song.

The Axim X3 was touted as being thinner and lighter then Dell’s current models and features an optional integrated 802.11b capability.

The M2200MP is a variable use model for the home and office.

The new software is the Dell Media Experience. This application will be included on all Dimension desktops enabling users to manage digital media. It differs from Windows XP Media Center, but Dell would not in what way. He also would not deny that Dell would soon ship a Media Center computer.

The primary changes to the online store include a cleaner appearance, more photos and simplified navigation, said Mike George, Dell’s chief marketing officer. The new site should go online in mid-October.