Ealier this year Gateway ditched its 100% direct sale model and branded stores to sell through BestBuy and Circuit City. HP has decided to sell through Wal Mart. And now Lenovo (the old IBM) will be entering Office Depot retail stores with ThinkPad models starting this Sunday, leaving Dell as the only major purely direct website sales player left.
According to a report from CNET.com Lenovo and Office Depot have reached an agreement to display and sell the ThinkPad Z60t (widescreen thin and light), ThinkPad T43 (thin and light business machine), ThinkPad R series (budget ThinkPad line) and ThinkPad X41 (ultraportable and Tablet PC version) at Office Depot stores nationwide in the USA. This is big news because ThinkPads have typically only been available via the web, and IBM never bothered to compete for shelf space in retail stores. With the introduction of ThinkPad notebooks in Office Depot Lenovo ThinkPad notebooks will be sitting alongside HP, Sony and Toshiba.
Below is a list of ThinkPad notebooks we know will be available at Office Depot and links to information on these laptops:
The ThinkPad T43 pictured above will soon be on sale at Office Depot locations (view larger image)
This is great news for consumers, because now we can actually go and see a ThinkPad before purchasing it. We can do our own math and decision making as to whether it's cheaper or more convenient to buy in a store such as Office Depot or via the web. Prior to this ThinkPads had been in retail sores before 1999, but never in the past 6 years except in independent stores such as J&R Electronics and RSC Experience in New York City. Lenovo also said this is not an exclusive deal with Office Depot, meaning the door is open to ThinkPads marching into other retail stores.
HP Pushes the Envelope in Retail
Meanwhile, HP is pushing down the retail line further by starting to sell in Wal Mart stores by the end of this month (if rumors are correct). That's right, hit the electronics section of Wal Mart to buy an HP ze2000 laptop, but not until after you've bought your bargain priced Pop Tarts from the cereal aisle.
Gateway gave up on pure direct web sales and Gateway Country stores and now sells in various retail outlets such as Best Buy and Circuit City. Apple is opening more and more stores worldwide to sell it's PowerBooks and iBooks directly to customers.
Dell out in the Cold?
All of a sudden it looks more and more like Dell is standing out in the cold with it's 100% pure web sales model. Furthermore, Dell recently revised down it's earnings and outlook for profit and sales. Will they do something to shake up sales by selling via retail? Highly doubtful, but they may need to become more agressive with getting their notebooks displayed at the Dell carts. This author lives in the largest city in the U.S. and I have no idea where I could go and see a Dell notebook in person, in fact I don't believe there is anywhere accessible. Samsung meanwhile proudly shows off its notebooks in New York City, but you can't buy them.
Getting your product in front of consumers for them to see is smart, sometimes they don't know about a product and will stumble onto it and like it. Furthermore, it seems that consumers are becoming more savvy and choosy with notebooks and want to see and feel them before buying, at least that's what Lenovo seems to think.
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