Adding to its long-standing consumer line of computers, Gateway hopes the new E-1000 line will help it become a player in the corporate computer market.
Splitting its products along consumer and corporate lines means it can better address the needs of both markets, Gateway said.
In the consumer market, competition dictates continual upgrades and updates, but companies prefer more stability in the systems they purchase, reducing the variety of machines their networks have to support. With two product lines, Gateway "can evolve each line by what's right for that customer base," said Jeff Stadler, director of product marketing for Gateway's enterprise division.
Bruce Stephen, an analyst with International Data Corporation, agrees with Gateway's approach. "The large-accounts business makes up one-third of Gateway's revenue, and it's one of the faster growing segments of that income. It's become a big enough chunk of their business that they need to tune their products for the business market."
"It's going to be a very challenging market. The sector they're going after is receiving a lot of attention," he added.
The new E-1000 system is key in Gateway's most prominent attack on the corporate market. As previously reported by CNET's NEWS.COM, these new low-cost computers are designed for use on corporate intranets and emulate the NetPC specification created by companies such as Intel, Microsoft, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell Computer.
The standard E-1000 system includes a 166-MHz Pentium processor, 16MB of memory, a 1.2GB hard disk drive, a floppy drive, 16-bit Business Audio, and an integrated 10/100 Ethernet. The system also includes two expansion slots for add-in cards.
System pricing without a display and in large quantities is less than $900, the company said. Pricing starts at $1,249 with a 15-inch monitor. Gateway expects to ship the E-1000 in July.
Gateway chose to not follow the NetPC standard strictly, instead adding some extra features. "It does a lot of what a NetPC does," said Stadler. The Gateway system is based on discussions about low-cost computers with corporate customers.
Despite having a price tag below $1,000, the systems, based on Intel's midrange 166-MHz Pentium processor, are fairly powerful. They also include software and hardware to allow remote diagnosis of problems by information systems personnel, helping avoid the need for physically visiting the machines.
The E series includes more expensive Pentium II processor-based systems.
Additionally, the systems are designed to allow for rapid replacement of the electronic guts of the computer--the motherboard--while still on-site, to reduce repair costs and downtime.