Dell Inc. began selling flat-panel televisions from rival electronics manufacturer Sony Corp. on Wednesday and said it would soon offer products from a variety of companies as it tweaks its consumer business strategy.
A visit to Dell’s Web site showed two Sony Bravia LCD televisions — 40- and 46-inch models — on sale alongside TVs made by the Round Rock, Texas, company.
In a statement, Dell said it would continue to offer Dell-branded televisions from 37 inches and below but would soon offer “a wide assortment of televisions from leading manufacturers that feature the latest technology and meet Dell’s high standards for performance.” It was unclear what other brands Dell might start selling, or exactly when.
Dell said the decision was part of an ongoing effort to focus investments in its consumer business where it could provide the highest return to shareholders.
It echoes an announcement in August when Dell pulled the plug on its DJ Ditty digital music player and instead offered a range of music players from Creative Technology Ltd., iRiver, SanDisk Corp. and Samsung.
Analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group said Dell’s lack of a nationwide retail presence goes against the tendency of shoppers who prefer to see TVs in person before making a purchase online. Enderle said the move to offer Sony products at least drives traffic to Dell’s Web site.
It’s the first product-related announcement since Michael Dell returned to replace Kevin Rollins as chief executive officer last week.
“It’s the emergence of a new strategy,” Enderle said. “I think we’re going to see a lot more changes out of the company now that Michael Dell is back.”
Dell has been mired in a string of disappointing earnings and an unresolved federal accounting probe while slipping behind rival Hewlett-Packard Co. in worldwide computer shipments.
Dell also faces a class-action lawsuit claiming the company inflated profits with secret payments of about $1 billion a year from chip maker Intel Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif. Dell has refused to comment on the lawsuit, which was filed last week in Austin.
In an e-mail distributed to employees Friday, Michael Dell said he would quash bonuses for 2006 and reduce managers to help cut costs and steer the company back toward dominance. He also wrote that the company he founded in 1984 would push faster product development, improve customer service and expand into new businesses to drive revenue growth.
Dell shares closed up 17 cents, or less than 1 percent, to $23.83 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Shares fell 2 cents in early after-hours trading.