NEC regroups, focuses on notebooks

NEC Computer Systems Division is completing a reorganization of its government operations and is emphasizing notebook technology in a renewed federal marketing push.

NEC Computer Systems Division a business unit of Packard Bell NEC Inc. is absorbing what had been the government business of Zenith Data Systems Corp. which Packard Bell acquired in 1996. NEC Computer Systems Division is moving Zenith's program management marketing contract management and other operations to Sacramento Calif. where the division is based. Sales and business development personnel will remain in Zenith's former headquarters in Herndon Va. and in field offices nationwide. The reorganization is expected to be done by Nov. 1.

The new structure began to take shape earlier this year as Zenith attempted to address the Air Force's criticism of its delivery capabilities on the Desktop V contract [FCW April 14]. At that time Zenith said it would move order processing closer to NEC Computer Systems Division's California factory.

The Air Force decided not to renew the Zenith Desktop V contract in May. Yet NEC Computer Systems Division continued with the reorganization and has crafted a new marketing strategy that emphasizes the General Services Administration schedule and the company's notebook technology.

Don Gray is heading the division's federal effort as vice president and general manager of government and education. Gray was appointed in August. Jim Shea vice president of Zenith is working with NEC Computer Systems Division through the reorganization. Gray now based in Herndon will move to Sacramento.

The organization will put order processing within "shouting" distance of the production line while keeping sales personnel close to customers Gray said.

He added that NEC Computer Systems Division's government operations will market primarily though the GSA schedule but will team with integrators to pursue blanket purchase agreements and more complex indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity bids.

As for technology NEC Computer Systems Division is focusing on notebooks and docking stations to differentiate its federal effort. "It's hard to differentiate on desktops " Gray said. He also said notebooks have become a "bigger and bigger part of the government market" and that NEC Computer Systems Division has a technological edge over rivals Dell Computer Corp. and Gateway 2000 Inc.

Building on Lessons From Japan

Specifically NEC Computer Systems Division can draw upon the display technology developed in NEC Japan's laboratories company officials said.

For example NEC Computer Systems Division today announced its NEC Versa 5000 Series notebooks which are among the first models to feature 13.3-inch displays.

Anthony C. Soohoo a senior product manager at NEC Computer Systems Division said the 13.3-inch displays have a viewing area comparable with a 15-inch desktop monitor. The slimline products weigh 4.9 pounds and feature a 166 MHz Pentium with MMX technology chip.

Gray said the product will reach the GSA schedule by mid-October. Commercial prices range from $2 999 to $3 999 and federal users will see GSA pricing 6 percent lower than that NEC Computer Systems Division officials said.

Payton Smith a research analyst at IDC Government said the notebook differentiation strategy makes sense. "NEC does have notebook name recognition " Smith said. "Notebooks are going to be a good segment for them to focus on initially."

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