The analyst firm believes that Dell needs to offer more services and develop a broader market strategy to fully address the needs of small-business customers.
The comments come after Dell's recent introduction of Vostro desktop computers, printers and monitors aimed at small businesses.
Dell provides free support tools to buyers of Vostro kit during their first year of ownership, as well as access to a dedicated support centre.
"With Vostro, Dell hopes to move past transaction selling and strengthen relationships with small-business customers," said Gartner analysts Leslie Fiering, Tiffani Bova and Stephen Kleynhans.
"The hardware products are built with Latitude enterprise-class components and should be more reliable than those found in most consumer-grade products. The dedicated support number is a plus, allowing users fast access to agents.
"However, this launch seems to mainly be a branding exercise focused on creating a new navigation point on the Dell website.
"Dell has not addressed key opportunities, as this line does not enable integration with small-business servers, offer application support for small-business applications or differentiate between consumer and small-business needs."
The Gartner report goes on to speculate that Dell plans software-as-a-service offerings for Vostro owners, although nothing to this effect has been announced.
Gartner went on to predict that attractive pricing would stimulate interest in the Vostro range.
"The relatively inexpensive price points (around US$500) of most of the products may tempt some enterprise customers, who would otherwise opt for Optiplex or Latitude," the analyst firm stated.
"Dell may be forced to walk a tightrope, using Vostro's selling points to lure SMBs while shoring up support for its enterprise-class lineup.
"SMB brands are not new to the PC industry. While they are critical to OEMs' SMB strategies, they have not succeeded in winning over the SMB market segment.
"Dell will have to enhance Vostro with a rich set of services and a complete go-to-market strategy to make a difference."
Small firms considering purchasing Vostro-branded products should view the offerings as "solid and viable", Gartner said.
Dell Vostro 'largely a branding exercise'
By Robert Jaques on Jul 18, 2007 12:50PM