Wal-Mart Stores is developing a plan to launch its own brand of PCs.
The retail giant plans to begin offering notebooks under its own brand name during the first quarter of 2004, a report in the Taiwan Economic News said this week, quoting industry sources. A source familiar with the notebook industry in the United States told CNET News.com that Wal-Mart has shown interest in offering a notebook line in the future, but has not yet reached a deal with a specific manufacturer. If Wal-Mart, which sells PCs from companies such as Hewlett-Packard and eMachines, moves into the notebook market successfully, it could send ripples across the PC industry. The retailer's typically aggressive pricing could compel manufacturers such as Dell, HP and Toshiba to lower their notebook prices in response, analysts said.
However, retailers haven't had much luck with house brands in the past. CompUSA has tried a number of times to launch its own PC line but has usually wound down projects after a few months, and Best Buy put an end to its own PC effort. Some analysts suggested that Wal-Mart is aiming to increase its own profit margin by taking out the intermediary between the retailer and the manufacturer. The company may also be trying to spark consumer demand for notebooks by pushing down prices, they said. "This move will further drive down notebook PC prices, particularly at the low end," Matt Sargent, an analyst with ARS, wrote in a report. Wal-Mart's notebooks would likely use either an AMD Athlon XP or Intel Celeron processor and come with a 15-inch screen, with prices starting at about $750, Sargent said in the report.
News source: C|Net News.com