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Wal-Mart to sell build-your-own computers

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    Je suis Napoléon!

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News Story by Emily Kaiser

MAY 03, 2006 (REUTERS) - CHICAGO -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will start selling build-your-own-computer components in more than one-third of its U.S. discount stores this month as it looks for ways to tempt shoppers to buy more than just low-margin food.
Wal-Mart currently offers only prepackaged bundles of PCs and accessories in most of its stores. With the build-your-own-computer counters, shoppers can choose among several different components.

Such components include central processing units -- the brain of the computer that powers its basic functions -- as well as monitors, keyboards and mice that customers can combine to create customized packages they can load in a shopping cart and take home right away.

The retailer began testing build-your-own computer counters in about 20 locations last year and is now introducing them in 1,200 of its 3,200 U.S. discount stores, spokeswoman Jolanda Stewart told Reuters.

It expects to offer the merchandise in some 1,400 stores by the end of the year, and possibly more in 2007.

Wal-Mart's entry into a category can raise alarms because the retailer's persistent price-cutting pressures competitors' profit margins. It has been blamed for bankruptcies in sectors ranging from groceries and toys.

But analysts said it was unlikely that Wal-Mart would pose much of a threat to the likes of Dell Inc., which mastered the made-to-order computer model and offers a much wider selection. They also noted that Dell makes most of its money selling computers to businesses rather than individuals.

Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, is the No. 1 seller of products ranging from dog food to diamonds, but it has not managed to gain as much market share in computers. Wal-Mart made a big splash last November when it sold laptop computers for $398 on the day after Thanksgiving, however.

Forrester Research Inc. analyst Ted Schadler, who follows the consumer technology sector, said Wal-Mart has the potential to become a key destination for computer shoppers.

"People buy on price," he said. "If Wal-Mart is competitive on price -- which of course it will be -- it's easy for Wal-Mart to be a destination."

Wal-Mart has been adding more upscale merchandise such as flat-panel televisions and fashionable clothing in the hope of getting customers to buy more than just food and commodity items, which carry low profit margins.

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Wall-Mart could make some good money out of that, but who would acually buy one?

We all know that Wall-Mart prices are really low. What will you be getting for your money?

Can you trust them, that they know what they are doing? Can you take it back to them with problem's and can they acually repair them? Will they have a technical Support line just for computers?

I for one wouldn't buy one, due to the fact that I really think they will lack the ability to help people and know what they are doing.

Just my 2 cents

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    Je suis Napoléon!

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from the description of the service..it looks as though they're basically still gonna be selling prebuilt package computers....you just get to customize it some...i doubt they are gonna have a vast range of choices...they'll probably have a short list of procs to choose from...and ram and hd's of varying sizes...probably not many choices and all of those choices will probably not really be choices...but a way to funnel the inexperienced into the computer they want them to buy (i would imagine that if you picked all the HIGHEST end stuff that are on their lists...that you'd be getting the same prebuilt computer that they sell as their HIGH end prebuilt)
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Yeah that is unfortunate it would be a great way to get people into computers as well get them to take an interest and get good value for money.

But cheap computers can be ok as long as they are cheap, there are a couple of stores here that are ridiculously cheap(the kinda places you dont admit to shopping in but everyone does) and they have cheap pcs every now and again and cheap hardware deals everyother week. And some of there stuff is really good, the PCs they get are half decent quality(better than a dell) and alot cheaper.

Im going to get myself a PVR tv tuner next week for £30 and by all accounts its pretty good, they have a decent turion based lapper for £650 that week and a 8ms 19" monitor for £170, and i believe my 5.1 speakers came from that shop as well, so cheap isnt always bad just as long as your careful and if a store has the buying power you can get the best of both worlds.

But conceivably they could have a small team of techs who could build the PCs in the shop if they were doing it properly, bu the semi prebuilt approach sounds more like what they would do.
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