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Sun expands auction programs to resellers

The high-end Unix systems maker plans to expand its auction programs so that resellers of its products can buy the hardware through sites such as eBay, TekSell and Mercata.

Sun Microsystems is expanding its auction program, allowing intermediaries to buy computing products through the process.

Sun has been experimenting with auctioning its hardware and software, starting with eBay and expanding to TekSell and Mercata.

Tomorrow, the purveyor of high-end Unix systems will expand its programs so that resellers of Sun products also can buy its hardware through auction sites, said Alex Rublowsky, group manager for Sun's auction programs. Previously, only the ultimate end users were allowed to buy through the auctions.

Resellers wanted to be able to participate in the auctions, Rublowsky said. The implication is that resellers will get a lower price than buying the equipment from Sun through the usual channels. "On Tuesday, you might get a better price than Thursday," he said.

The auction program hasn't been a very significant business for Sun, Rublowsky said, but the Palo Alto, Calif., company has higher hopes. "The volume we have done certainly is not going to move any needles from a level of significance. However, we are aggressively investigating what it is this program can do for us," he said.

The biggest advantage for Sun so far has been that 53 percent of buyers through the auction program are new Sun customers, Rublowsky said.

But what of the other 47 percent who are buying directly? Resellers still have services and support to offer those customers, Rublowsky argued. "You can't really auction off that relationship," he said.