Dell + Allienware vs Acer + Gateway?
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With hardware margins still paper thin and average selling prices getting so low its hard to make a buck out of selling PC hardware, it makes a lot of sense to see some consolidation in this maturing, commoditised business.

IBM kicked off the round last year when it sold its entire PC division to Lenovo. Now Company exec’s are being asked to confirm rumours that their own business is next on the list. So far they steadfastly refuse to divulge what secret talks they may, or may not be in to buy up the smaller players.

But SmartOffice News knows that where’s there’s smoke there’s usually smouldering ruins somewhere.

First Dell hit the rumour rounds this week with unconfirmed reports that the company had struck an as-yet unannounced deal to acquire high performance gaming machine maker Alienware.

Alienware responded to requests for confirmation with a suitably cryptic response than neither admitted nor denied the rumours were true.

In a written statement Alienware told a C|net blogger that: “At this time, Alienware will not comment on any speculative stories or rumors concerning Dell and Alienware’s association. While we do believe that news stories like this are ultimately a strong positive reinforcement of the Alienware brand and the company’s success, we will not comment on speculation or potential future events. As always, Alienware is committed to offering consumers and businesses with the best high-performance, innovative PC products on the market and we remain manically focused on that goal.”

Sounds like a yes to me!

Dell simply refused to comment.

Since then a local C|net reporter asked the local Dell guy how true the rumours were, as if he would know, and as if he would tell if he did know. “I’d suggest you take that speculation with a grain of salt given the origin stated in the blog (Alienware’s competitor) — you can never be sure what the motivation is,” was local Dell spin doctor Paul McKeon’s, (Corporate Communications Manager for Dell ANZ) response to the C|net reporter via email.

So far this speculation has all pretty much been played out in the blogosphere, here, here and here. We’ll have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, either fuled by the speculative frenzy over a potential Allienware Dell hook-up, the latest rumour has come to light about Acer’s possible plans to acquire Gateway to help it wrest the US market out of the tenacious grip of Dell and HP.

Acer chairman JT Wang has been forced to deny rumours that the company has designs on the Gateway business, number three in the US.

Acer certainly has the money and the motivation. Acer has made massive inroads into the PC business in just about every market but the US and cracking the market there is an essential part of the copmany’s strategy going forward.

Wang was a little more convincing the Alienware in his denial, revealing that some investors had suggested it was a good idea. But Wang said he believes it’s not a necessary step for the company to establish itself in the US market.

Sources with Taiwan’s notebook makers commented that the rumors about Acer acquiring Gateway stemmed from Dell’s and HP’s recent active developments in the European markets, where Acer is the number one notebook vendor. Dell and HP are hoping that the pressure they are giving Acer in Europe will slow down Acer’s development in the US, the sources told our Taiwan correspondent.

Wang said because Acer’s notebooks are already number one in Europe, the company expects its growth there to slow down this year. But Acer’s overall sales in Europe could still grow 30% to US$6.5 billion in 2006 from US$5 billion in 2005.

Even if Acer grew only 20% in Europe because of strong competition, its revenues would still grow to US$6 billion in 2006, Wang said. But Acer could make that up from the US and China markets, he added.

Additional Reporting by David Tseng