Gateway has begun selling a range of desktop PCs and flat-panel monitors in France, the company said Wednesday.
This marks the second entry into a European country for Gateway, of Irvine, Calif., since the company withdrew from international sales in 2001 to focus on its core U.S. business, said company spokeswoman Lisa Emard.
Now the company is trying to make up for lost time.
“Yes, we have plans for further expansion in Europe. We’re not going to announce 10 more countries tomorrow, but we will be making a slow march, both through our existing partners and seeking new opportunities,” she said.
The trend began in 2004, when Gateway acquired eMachines and used that company’s retail presence in Japan and the United Kingdom to expand its sales beyond the North American market of the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Gateway is in a difficult time as it conducts a public search for a new chief executive officer, following the resignation in February of Wayne Inouye. The company ranks a distant third in the U.S. PC market behind Dell and Hewlett-Packard, according to market research firms.
Gateway will face a more fractured marketplace in France, where its main competitors will be Hewlett-Packard, Packard Bell, AsusTek Computer, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Acer and Toshiba, Emerd said.
The company plans to compete for that business by selling three configurations of desktop computers through retail stores owned by KESA Electronics, a pan-European group operating in seven European countries. KESA operates more than 400 locations of retail stores in France, under the names Darty and BUT.
The French market has converted to portable computers faster than the United States, with a split of about 50 percent notebooks and 50 percent desktops, Emerd said. The U.S. market is closer to 30 percent notebooks and 70 percent desktops, according to a recent Intel estimate.
Still, Gateway has launched three configurations of desktop PCs, with plans to win French market share by delivering computers with high performance per value, not necessarily the lowest absolute cost, she said.
They include the GT5016f (or GT5018f), which is designed for multimedia performance with a 2.0GHz AMD Athlon64 dual core processor and nVidia GeForce 6100 graphics card, along with 1024MB DDR memory and a 200GB hard drive. It sells for 729 euros (US$904).
The E3024 (or E3026) uses a 1.8GHz, 64-bit AMD Sempron processor with the same nVidia GeForce graphics, and a smaller 512MB of DDR memory and 160GB hard drive. It sells for 399 euros.
The E4042 is designed to manage digital media with a 3.06GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor, ATI Radeon X300 based graphics card, 512MB DDR2 memory and 250GB hard drive. It sells for 569 euros.
Gateway is also selling displays with those computers; either an FPD1960 19-inch flat panel monitor for 249 euros or an E17T4 17-inch flat panel monitor for 199 euros.
Gateway’s announcement comes a day before it is scheduled to announce its quarterly earnings report.
Analysts said the timing had no special significance. Gateway is expected to announce that it had a strong quarter in shipment terms, said Charles Smulders, an analyst with Gartner.
The company could use some improvement in the area of direct sales operations, he said. But this move to gain market share in non-U.S. markets does not conflict with that goal.