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Gateway targets government

The company will partner with reseller Pulsar Data Systems for sales to federal agencies, another sign of shortcomings in direct sales.

In an attempt to boost its government business, Gateway will partner with Pulsar Data Systems to sell its portable, desktop, and server computers to federal agencies, another sign that PC makers are facing shortcomings in direct sales.

Pulsar, a value-added reseller, will market Gateway products bundled with technical support and services to government offices involved in the Electronic Computer Store II (ECS II) contract, offering E-Series corporate desktops, G-Series multimedia systems, Solo portable computers, and NS-Series servers.

The ECS II contract is a federal program sponsored by the National Institutes of Health that offers 45 resellers the chance to compete for $2 billion in business from federal offices. ECS provides federal agencies with commercial hardware, software, documentation, and maintenance, training, and warranty services.

Today's announcement follows on the heels of yesterday's news that Dell Computer will partner with Wang's consultant services division. The partnership will mean 16 hours of free technical consultant services to federal offices purchasing select Dell servers.

Gateway and Dell have both staked their claim on direct sales, which bypass resellers in order to "cut out the middleman" and offer lower prices. In doing so, they have given up to a degree on customers who outsource some or all of their information systems needs and prefer to buy computers from a firm that will provide support.

Working chiefly on high-end tasks that parallel resellers' support work, the services arms of PC makers like IBM and Hewlett-Packard thrive in the high-margin services segment. Compaq, which also uses the reseller "channel" for distribution, has offered to buy Digital Equipment in large part because of the latter's services arm.