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Seagate To Offer Drives Bundling Lindows

Two online dealers, CDW Computer Warehouse and Insight, are already offering the new drives, with one priced at $69.77.
Disk drive maker Seagate will roll out a new channel strategy next month, focusing more attention on solutions for the white-box channel, a company executive told systems builders. The company will also roll out a program for offering low-cost, additional warranty protection on its drives.

Speaking this week at the Intel Solution Summit in Las Vegas, Joe Cousins, senior director of channel marketing at Scotts Valley, Calif.-based Seagate, said the vendor will also offer a new product offering that bundles a desktop version of LindowsOS from vendor Lindows.com, onto some hard drives.

"We're experimenting with content on disk drives," Cousins said. "We've been selling empty real estate forever. We thought if we put content on it, it might be more valuable."

Lindows.com, San Diego, Calif., is the maker of the LindowsOS, a graphical, desktop operating system based on Linux. Cousins said Seagate was "experimenting" with the program of shipping drives into the channel that are preloaded with LindowsOS, with the aim of providing systems builders another tool to deliver unique solutions.

"We thought that might provide some opportunity for system builders out there," Cousins said.

Seagate has priced the LindowsOS-based drives the same as drives that are shipped without them, Cousins said, though he stopped short of saying exactly when the company would go into full distribution on the product.

At Seagate's Web site, the vendor notes that two online dealers, CDW Computer Warehouse and Insight, are already offering the new drives. CDW lists a Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 Hard Drive with Lindows OS with a list price of $69.77 on its Web site.

In addition to the drives, Cousins said Seagate has been acting on changes to its channel program since late last year, including consistent, channel-wide pricing and a cap of six weeks of product inventory in the channel at any one time. The moves were made, in large part, as a response to increased gray-market activity throughout the hard-disk-drive space in the second half of last year.

Seagate will enact further changes to its channel program on April 3, including the elimination of almost all thresholds by solution providers who want to qualify for "profit sharing" and other offerings. Seagate will now require solution providers to sell only a single disk drive to qualify for the program, Cousins said.

Among the other changes will be a move to beef up warranty support on Seagate's disk drives. Within the past 18 months, most vendors have moved from a 3-year warranty program on their drives to a one-year program; Cousins said Seagate will roll out an offering to partners that will add two years of additional warranty support for an extra $3 per disk drive -- an announcement that drew applause from the crowd of solution providers he addressed.

The profit-sharing plan, which the company devised last year, sets aside 7.5 percent of Seagate's net income to provide financial incentives to value-added solution providers who sell systems with Seagate drives.

"We wanted to maintain the channel as a stable, long-term source of profitable market share," Cousins said.

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