Gateway moves back into the UK

Analysts believe Gateway will aim for high-end buyers, and could pose a threat to Sony and Toshiba

Four years after leaving the UK, US PC manufacturer Gateway is back.

The company announced on Monday that its machines will soon be available to UK consumers and businesses again, complete with their distinctive Friesian-style boxes.

Gateway laptops and notebooks will be available through Comet stores around the UK. The company will also start offering its eMachine PCs through the Staples chain. They are already on sale in Dixons.

"Today, Gateway believes that market conditions, a simplified business model and new high-performance, superb value PCs sold through leading UK retailers will resonate with consumers," said the company in a statement.

Gateway merged with eMachines in early 2004.

Senior Gartner analyst Ransit Atwal believes that Gateway will aim its machines at the high-end of the UK market.

"E-machines are aimed at the volume market. These Gateway machines will be aimed at higher up the chain, at people buying their third or fourth ever PC," said Atwal.

Atwal pointed out that Gateway's expansion is contrary to the general market movement. IBM, for example, has recently moved out of PC manufacturing altogether. But, he added, Gateway/eMachines are one of the few manufacturers to make money in the US today.

Atwal added that he expects Gateway will focus on consumers, although its deal with Staples will give it access to the small and medium business (SMB) market.

"I don't seem them going to SMB distributors until they're more established," he said.

Atwal doubted that market leader Dell would be seriously affected by Gateway's arrival, but suggested that brands such as Sony and Toshiba could see their sales affected.

"There's only so much market to go round," he said.