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Toshiba, AT&T join affiliate trend

The companies are partnering to sell PCs and Net access in bulk to workers at corporations, hoping to capitalize on the emerging affiliate buying trend.

Toshiba and AT&T announced the launch of an employee PC purchase program today, with the two companies combining to sell computers and Internet access in bulk to workers at large corporations.

With the alliance, the two companies hope to capitalize on the emerging "affiliate buying" trend of employers providing PCs to employees. Dell Computer provides PC services to American Airlines employees, Gateway to Avon workers and PeoplePC to Ford's work force.

"Ford and Delta have been offering technology as a perk, almost like medical or dental benefits," said Chandler Hayes, a spokesman for Toshiba from Benjamin Group BSMG Worldwide. "The employer can subsidize a portion or all of it."

Hayes said the deal differs from other programs in that Toshiba and AT&T will target companies with as few as 1,000 employees.

"You don't have to work for a Fortune 500 company," said Hayes. "And this offers (computers ranging from) good, better and best and also the notebook option."

Hayes said the companies are negotiating to sell bundled PC services to a number of firms but have not solidified any arrangements.