Dell flirting with U.K. retailer

The embattled PC maker makes another move into the retail channel with temporary promotional deal with European mobile phone and services retailer.

Dell has repeatedly said there would be more to its new retail sales strategy than just Wal-Mart. Though the PC maker still hasn't made a complete commitment, it's at least talking to more retailers about potential tie-ups.

Starting in the fall, Dell will be giving away a free base-model Inspiron notebook to British customers who sign up for a year of AOL broadband service from Carphone Warehouse Group, according to The Wall Street Journal.

If you haven't heard of Carphone Warehouse, no worries--it's a mobile phone and services company with 800 stores in the U.K. Beginning in September, the retailer will hand over a free coupon for a notebook, though the PC is upgradeable for a fee. It's still unclear whether Carphone Warehouse will be stocking Dell PCs after or during this promotional deal.

When Dell began selling a few models of desktops and notebooks in Wal-Mart last month, it signaled a departure from its traditional strategy of selling PCs directly to consumers. At the time, the limited nature of the Wal-Mart deal caused industry observers to wonder how committed Dell really was to a new retail approach. But Dell insisted there was "more to come," and the PC maker quickly followed up with announcements it would stock its PCs at Sam's Club, and said it is in talks with several Asian retail chains and specialty stores, but declined to name them.

Both IDC and Gartner released their 2007 second-quarter PC market share figures Wednesday, and both showed Dell continuing to slip in units shipped both in the U.S. and abroad. It's still too soon to tell what kind of effect Wal-Mart and other retail deals have had.

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