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Gateway talks business at CeBit

The company, which is on a quest to return to profitability by transforming itself into a consumer-electronics brand, uses the show to reassure business customers.


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Gateway still means business.

The Poway, Calif.-based company, which has embarked on a quest to return to profitability by transforming itself into a consumer-electronics brand, used this week's CeBit America trade show to reassure its business customers that it will remain a player in the world of business-computing hardware.

Gateway, which has pledged to unveil 50 products in 15 new categories this year--many of them for businesses--underscored its point by revealing more details on its plans to launch a Gateway PDA (personal digital assistant), deliver a new rack-mount server and launch a line of network-storage products over the next few months.

Gateway will likely receive the most attention for its new PDA, but executives revealed that the company's new four-processor rack-mount server and the first of its two new storage systems will appear by the end of the summer.

Gateway's new PDA will begin shipping in mid- to late July. The company fitted it with a 400MHz XScale processor from Intel, along with a 3.5-inch screen and dual Compact Flash and Secure Digital slots for adding modules for wireless networking or storing extra data.

The handheld, which is expected to be based on Microsoft's forthcoming Pocket PC 2003 software, will sell for between $300 and $350, said Mike Stinson, vice president of Gateway's Mobile Products Group.

"There are a lot of reasons for us to do a PDA, the strongest of which is we have customers continuing to ask for it," Stinson said. "This is the first of a series of (Gateway) products in the handheld/mobile area."

The PDA will likely become a crossover product of sorts for Gateway, which will likely sell it to both businesses and consumers.

Microsoft is expected to launch Pocket PC 2003 next week.

Aside from the PDA, Gateway plans to offer two new strictly business hardware products. It will introduce the new four-way rack-mount server, featuring four Intel Xeon MP processors, later in the summer, said Scott Weinbrandt, general manager of Gateway's Systems and Networking Products Group.

"Our customers are asking for denser systems as floor space becomes a big issue--there's not always enough floor space to place new systems," Weinbrandt said. "We're getting more and more requests (for rack-mount systems) as computing power gets greater."

Gateway will follow with a network attached storage system--a SCSI disk drive-based system sometimes referred to as a JBOD (for "just a bunch of disks")--that will give companies extra capacity to back up or archive their data. The system will be designed to work with a number of networks and file formats, in an effort to make it fairly versatile for customers, Weinbrandt said.

Gateway will also move to deliver a number of its servers with the Linux operating system pre-installed. Gateway currently offers Linux, but customers must purchase it through a special factory software configuration service and pay extra. Gateway will soon let customers select the OS as an option, in the same way they'd choose a hard drive, Weinbrandt said.

The new products will help Gateway round out its Systems and Networking business, which it revamped earlier this year with two new rack-mount systems.

Gateway has also refreshed its business PCs this month by launching several new desktop and notebook models, including a new Profile 4 all-in-one desktop machine.