Dell Challenges iMac With Webpc

Leading online PC retailer Dell Computer Corp. unveiled its new Webpc product today, a computer that is designed to allow users to access the Web with a minimum of installation and configuration hassles.

Priced at just under $1,000 (US$) to attract first-time buyers, the slender model weighs about 10 pounds, is six inches wide, 11 inches high and 10 inches deep.

Reminiscent of Apple’s iMac, Dell’s Webpc comes in colors that include Ferrari Red, Tahoe Blue and Brushed Aluminum.

“Michael Dell challenged us to design a product that would be cool-looking and be about the size of a Webster’s Dictionary,” Dave Hood, VP and General Manager of Dell’s Web Business Unit told the E-Commerce Times.

The package also includes an Intel Celeron 433 MHz chip, 15-inch color monitor, a CD-ROM drive, a printer, and one year of Internet access through the e-tailer’s Dellnet service.

Novice Market

Despite the fact that Dell’s consumer sales skyrocketed 62 percent for its quarter ending October 29th, this debut marks the first time that the Round Rock, Texas-based company has made a product for the novice PC market.

Nonetheless, Dell is a latecomer. Both Compaq Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard announced low-cost PCs earlier this month designed primarily for Internet access. However, unlike its competitors, Dell is aiming strictly at the consumer market.

Meanwhile, if novice buyers enthusiastically embrace Dell’s Webpc, it would help the company to substantially beef up its online subscription base and create an army of future customers for the upgraded models of Webpc — which go as high as $2,349.

Born To Web

According to Dell officials, the company plans to promote Webpc via television, billboards and on the Internet.

The campaign’s theme will be “Born to Web,” targeting a wide category of first-time computer buyers who range in age from 19 to 60 years old. Hood describes these users as “cyber-psyched,” or as people who “want to live the digital lifestyle.”

According to the company, online technical support will enable the Webpc to diagnose most of its own problems and allow novice users to access any needed support by just clicking on a button.

The Webpc becomes available for sale today. The company said that orders are expected to take from five to eight days to process and that those made by mid-December should be filled by Christmas.

Yesterday, Dell (Nasdaq: Dell) shares closed up 13/16 at 43 .

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