Direct marketer Dell has been operating in China for eight years, and is currently the number three ranked computer manufacturer in the country. No doubt painfully aware that it’s about to lose its title as number one PC maker to the resurgent Hewlett-Packard, the company is looking to stake out a stronger presence in the Chinese market, offering a pair of low-cost PCs (the EC280 and Dimension C521—both pages are in Chinese) as well as the launch of a Chinese-language corporate blog. The moves were announced on the eve of a visit to China by newly returned CEO Michael Dell.
“By listening directly to Chinese customers through digital-community tools and networks, Dell can deliver better, more customized products and a superior experience,” said Michael Dell in a statement. “About one-fifth of the world’s population speaks Chinese as their first language. As the number of Dell customers expands globally and the online population doubles from one to two billion people over the next few years, we will continue to have conversations in the language of choice for our customers.”
Dell’s budget EC280 for the Chinese market will be available in a few configurations with prices between RMB 2,599 and RMB 2,999, roughly $335 to $387 U.S. dollars. (RMN stands for renminbi, the primary currency in mainland China: it’s principal unit is the yuan.) The systems feature Intel Celeron processors running at 1.2 GHz, 512 MB of RAM, 80 GB hard drives, a 16× DVD drive, and 2 USB 2.0 ports. The systems come with a 15-inch CRT monitor (remember those?) and come with Windows XP pre-installed. Windows Vista is not offered for these systems.
A little higher up the scale, the Dell Dimension C521s will sport an AMD Athlon64 3200 processor, a 17-inch LCD display, 512 MB to 1 GB of RAM, an 80 GB hard drive, either a 16× DVD drive or 8× dual-layer DVD±RW combo drive, and an option for an ATI Radeon X1300 graphics card with 156 MB of RAM. The lower-priced model (RMB 3,999, about $520) comes pre-installed with an unspecified version of Linux, while the two more tricked-out models with ATI video cards ship with Windows Vista Home Edition and carry prices of RMB 4,799 and RMB 5,999 (about $620 and $776 U.S. dollars, respectively).
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