Philips plans relaunch of PC business

Philips is re-entering the PC market six years after it was forced to abandon the sector because of poor sales.

The Dutch electronics giant is launching a range of branded palm-top computers and notebooks next month. The palm-tops will be launched in the US, while the notebooks will target the Netherlands and the growing Asia Pacific market.

The company has not decided on a UK launch date for either product but insiders say both brands are likely to enter the market next year.

The news comes as the company hires Gerard Dufour to fill the new post of senior marketing director. In this global role he will be responsible for building a unified brand image, particularly in the US, where the company is weak, and the Asia Pacific market, where it is growing.

A Philips spokesman says: “These are now mass-market products. And we believe the power of our brand will sell units. It is time for us to try this market again.”

The company is joining forces with a group of other players, including NEC and Hewlett-Packard, to produce the palm-tops. For the notebooks it will work with NEC and Hitachi.

Philips is among the 40-strong group of companies which is working with Microsoft on developing a new palm-top software platform, Windows CE (MW October 4).

Philips sold off its telecommunications and data systems arm, which made its PCs, to Digital in 1989. The move came after the company announced losses of 1.3bn, the biggest in its history.

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