There is some rivalry between these two systems giant, which was apparent this week. The fun started last week when HP invited the press to a meeting about a new system targeted at SMEs to take place last Wednesday. Then Dell told journalists that it was inviting press to a meeting this Monday just gone. Low and behold, HP then cancelled the meeting and re-scheduled it for the Wednesday, the 12th. Was this the two companies trying to steal a march on each other? The answer appears to be yes for low and behold, the two companies announced, more or less, directly competing systems with a targeted price within a few pounds of each other and, surprise, surprise, HP is slightly cheaper with its target system. And, as a full blown, super--sophisticated blade server, a system that looks potentially more compelling. Also, the HP system is the c3000. The Dell is a 3000i. Another happy coincidence? Or are these two companies trying to eat each other? At these times, the most difficult thing for journalists to do often, is to get a realistic price out of somebody. Ask for a price and the answer will be, "it depends". To some extent this is fair enough because it does depend on the type of hardware, the amount, the sophistication (top of the line speedy disks or old, slow, should be pensioned off disks) and so on. But with the SME market this just does not wash. Before they even start a conversation with you, most SMEs will want to know the price. For years the IT industry has talked about getting into the SME market, mainly because they had saturated the market for large systems and SMEs provided the only prospects for growth. Now they are at least doing the right thing by getting a bit more information out and in front of SMEs. Will it work? We will see, but the fight will at least be entertaining. When Dell announced the system on Monday the company came up with an exact price. Very exact. £5,497 for an average system. The problem was that they could not come up with an exact configuration. All they would say was that the price was for a system with a couple of drives, and so on. Coming after Dell, on Wednesday, HP was prepared. I put my hand up at the announcement press conference to ask a question and, before a word escaped my lips, HP's Steve Watson said: "And before you ask, the price is just under £5,000 for a system with a TB of disk." He also provided the spec of the "typical" system shown in the diagram. In fact, HP appears ready to answer any questions at all that you may have on this system. After being one-nil to Dell it was now one-all with advantage to HP. This is the sort of competition that the bosses of small businesses around the country can surely only benefit from.