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HCL Insys plans low-cost PCs

Vipin V. Nair

NEW DELHI, Dec. 20

HCL Infosystems, India's largest computer-maker, will soon launch a range of low-priced personal computers under a new brand as part of the company's business restructuring efforts.

HCL Insys on Wednesday decided to sell its software exports business to its group company HCL Technologies, to focus completely on the domestic hardware and related services market.

The new brand is being created as per this strategy.

"We are looking at non-Intel and non-Microsoft products which will be low-cost. We will sell such products under the Ezeebee brand," said Mr Ajai Chowdhry, Chairman and CEO of HCL Insys.

Speaking to Business Line here, Mr Chowdhry said HCL Insys would henceforth have two brands of computers - the existing Beanstalk and the Ezeebee. The Beanstalk range will be high-end, premium computing products.

Mr Chowdhry did not divulge more details about the Ezeebee brand, which originally debuted last year as a net access device, but indicated that it could consists of PCs running Linux or stripped-down Windows software.

Companies such as LG and Compaq have started to offer in India PCs powered by non-Intel processors and running Linux operating system in a bid to bring down prices. HCL Infosystems currently does not offer such products.

'We are currently doing test marketing of the Ezeebee range. We will launch the products before March 2003,'' he said.

The Ezeebee range would primarily be sold in small and medium towns, where customers are more price sensitive than buyers in large metros.

"Our Objective is to go deeper into the category 'B', 'C' and 'D' cities and target the home segment there," Mr Chowdhry, one of the founders of the HCL Group, said.

In the process, the company may even offer local language software with the Ezeebee PCs. PC sales in smaller cities are growing at a healthy rate compared to the metros.

According to estimates by Manufacturers Association for Information Technology (MAIT), PC sales in semi-urban and rural areas grew by 20-25 per cent in the first half of 2002 over 10-15 per cent in the previous year.

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