Compaq Taps Beyond.com as Online Partner

Beyond.com’s quest to build a well-recognized brand name got a big boost on Tuesday, when the online software retailer announced it was chosen as Compaq’s online partner for software and services.

The strategic agreement between Beyond.com (Nasdaq: BYND), which recently bought privately held competitor BuyDirect, and Compaq (NYSE:CPQ), the world’s largest supplier of personal computers, was made public one day before Compaq competitor Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) announced the launch of its Gigabuys online shopping site. Dell’s new site will sell software and computer accessories along with hardware. Though Gigabuys is slated to open for business today, the site still said “Coming Soon” at 11:45 a.m ET.

The moves by Compaq and Dell come after recent worries of flagging PC sales. It looks like it’s time for PC manufacturers to diversify into other ventures.

Compaq’s “Internet Vision”

Under the terms of the deal announced Tuesday, Beyond.com will provide online software services to Compaq customers and business partners. Beyond.com also plans to be a strategic partner for software and services offered through Compaq.com, including technical support.

“We are extremely pleased that Compaq has chosen Beyond.com to be an online partner for software delivery to its customers,” said Mark Breier, president and CEO of Beyond.com. “This enables us to support Compaq’s aggressive Internet vision. The agreement combines the software leadership of Beyond.com with Compaq’s preeminent market position as a worldwide supplier of computing solutions to consumers, small businesses and enterprises.”

This is an interesting statement because Compaq’s “Internet Vision” has seemed unclear recently. Last month, the company announced it had stopped selling computers to Internet-only retailers for a 90-day period. Compaq is using this time to reevaluate its e-commerce strategy.

“The agreement with Beyond.com underscores Compaq’s commitment to expand the range of solutions available to our customers via the Internet and to partner with industry leaders, such as Beyond.com, across many categories,” Compaq.com vice president and general manager Kenny Kurtzman said. “This strategy gives our customers more software choices and a better, more integrated online buying experience.”

Expanding “the range of solutions” seems to the major goal for technology companies today. Later today, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates is expected to discuss his company’s new e-commerce strategy.

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