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Fujitsu rolls out build-to-order notebooks

The company?s new program is designed to lower costs and make notebook PCs more customized.

Fujitsu PC confirmed today that it will begin to make notebook PCs under a build-to-order program designed to lower customer costs and make computers more customized for buyers.

Under the Authorized Configure Program (ACP), Fujitsu will ship bare-bones notebook systems containing a processor, and little else, to participating resellers. The reseller will insert the hard disk drive, memory, operating system, CD-ROM drive, and other components.

In theory, ACP will lower customer costs because resellers will not purchase components until they are needed. Customers will also be able to get what they want, according to Fujitsu?s U.S. president George Everhart.

Fujitsu's LifeBook 500 computers, containing 150-MHz and 166-MHz Pentium processors with MMX, will be the first models subject to the program. Other models will be added in the future. MicroAge (MICA) has signed a letter of intent to participate in the program.

As reported earlier in NEWS.COM, Fujitsu's system depends on designing a system so that different components can fit into one base model. The strategy starts with the design of a core product and then allows a variety of components to fit into this design, Everhart said in June.

While modularization has worked with desktops, few manufacturers have tried it with notebooks because of their special design requirements. Most have announced plans to make build-to-order notebooks but have not rolled out a program like Fujitsu?s.

"It's a lot more difficult than with a desktop. You've got smaller space and products that aren't standardized," said Jeff Hansen, director of mobile hardware strategy at MicroAge. "They have been designing their products over the past year for this."