NEC and Packard Bell will melt into one a month today but users won't notice the difference, the firm said today. Although the European operations will be unified from September 1, PCs will continue to be sold under the separate brands for a while yet.
"It'll still be the brand names you know and love," said Graeme Simons, European product marketing manager, PC division. "It's not been decided long-term but for the foreseeable future - and that's a long time - you'll still see Packard Bell aimed at home and SoHo users, NEC PowerMate for corporates, and Zenith through the Bull and government channel." Zenith merged with Packard Bell earlier this year.
"If the product is going to sell under its current brand why change it? Any changes will only be made after very careful research."
Manufacturing and office space is "not firmly nailed down", said Simons, but the UK headquarters for PCs is likely to be in Eton, near Windsor, Berkshire, with European headquarters likely to be in Angers, France.
"The merger will allow us to be very aggressive on desktop pricing," Simons said. "Packard Bell gives us flexible, low-cost manufacturing that we haven't had in the past."
One change in plan has already been made, however. Leeds United Football Club will play with 'Packard Bell NEC' on their shirts next season rather than the original 'Packard Bell' alone.
This is an odd one. If NEC, Packard Bell and Zenith on their own couldn't make it big individually, how come they're going to now they're all one happy family? Okay, PB sold plenty through retail ... but it was never clear they made sizable profits. NEC sold plenty in Japan ... but was always the bridesmaid here and in most foreign countries. Zenith once sold plenty ... but it got bought by Bull and went horribly wrong. It's difficult to imagine Compaq, IBM, Dell or Gateway losing too much sleep. This merged operation wants to appear all things to all men but looks more like a baggy monster. It's a near certainty that there will have to be some slimming down before the leaders in business PCs start to think of PBNEC as a challenge.