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Micron revs middle-tier PC push

Micron will roll out a series of product and service offerings targeted at small- and medium-size businesses.

Micron Electronics kicked off a new marketing push and a comprehensive financing program designed to give the company a stronger personality with the growing middle-tier of the market and putting it up against direct-seller Gateway, which has been a leader in this market.

Under a new ad campaign titled "New Rules, New Tools," Micron will begin to roll out a series of product and service offerings targeted at small- and medium-sized businesses. One of the first offerings in the Mpower program is a flexible leasing program that provides customers trade-in rebates.

The overall effort is aimed at making the Idaho-based PC vendor the Dell for small- and medium-sized businesses. A number of these customers have gained enough technical expertise to be able to buy their technology directly from a vendor, according to Mark Gonzales, vice president of worldwide marketing. Dell, however, mostly focuses its efforts on large businesses. Gateway, meanwhile, has been a stalwart in the small- and medium-sized business market and may present tought competition for Micron.

To gain the trust and loyalty of this market, Micron will treat them like big fish, according to Gonzales. Micron will provide them with product roadmaps, increased field support, vertical target marketing, a variety of buying programs--essentially the panoply of services that Dell offers its multinational customers.

This, however, will be no easy road to follow, he added. Small- and medium sized-businesses tend to be spread out over large geographic distances. Historically, these purchasers have also been "transaction" buyers who disappear after purchasing equipment.

"In this market, average selling prices tend to be higher, but costs tend to be higher as well," he added.

"They have about a year to get it right," said Michael Gale, vice president of consulting at Intelliquest.

One of the first elements of the strategy, the Mpower program, started today. The program is similar in concept to Gateway's Yourware program, but wider in scope, said Michael Rosenfelt, creative director for Micron. Under Mpower, Micron allows customers to buy computers under a variety of financing options. At the same time, customers are eligible to receive rebates for older technology they trade in. Micron will also dispose of older technology for free under the Mpower Green Recycling program.

With these programs, Micron is telling these customers "You're it for us, you're the bomb," said Rosenfelt.