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Dell Closes Kiosks

The PC maker decides to stick with traditional retail outlets.

Marking the end of a forgettable chapter in itshistory,

Dell

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is shuttering its network of salesbooths in the U.S. as it shifts its focus to sellingPCs through traditional retail outlets.

The Round Rock, Texas, PC maker said Wednesday that itwas closing the 140 kiosks that showcase Dell notebookand desktop PCs in shopping malls throughout the U.S.

Thekiosks, which debuted in 2002, gave Dell some exposureto retail. However they were deemed less-than-ideal shoppingexperiences because customers placed orders for future home delivery instead of being able to carry home a newPC.

In recent months, Dell has adopted a more traditionalretail strategy, selling its PCs through outlets suchas

Wal-Mart

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,

Staples

(SPLS)

and

Best Buy

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.

Dell said it was not shutting down its Dell Directstore in Dallas, which like the kiosks does not carryany inventory, and noted that the roughly 50 kiosks inoverseas markets would also continue operating.

Dell said the move fits in with how the company'sglobal retail strategy is evolving.

"Ever since we began our journey into retail, wewanted to give customers the opportunity to call,click, or visit Dell and have access to ouraward-winning products," said Tony Weiss, VP of Dell'sglobal consumer business, in a statement.

Long known for its direct sales model, Delltraditionally eschewed retailers and sold its productsstrictly through phone orders and the Internet.

While themodel served Dell well for years, it began showingsigns of strain in recent years. As the PC market'sgrowth shifted to notebooks, the ability to touch andfeel a product before buying has become more importantthan was the case with desktop PCs.

Dell lost its spot as the world's No.1 PC maker to

Hewlett-Packard

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in 2006, and has seen its sales slow.

Since founder Michael Dell returned to the CEO postlast year, the company has struck a number ofpartnerships to sell its products through retailoutlets. The company says its products are nowavailable in more than 10,000 retail outletsworldwide.

As a result of the partnerships, Dell spokespersonDavid Frink said the kiosks were redundant. Frink saidDell does not break-out any information about thekiosks sales, and declined to characterize theirperformance compared with Dell's sales through its newretail partners.

According to industry research firm Gartner, Dell grewits PC shipment 17.1% in the fourth quarter of 2007,and saw its first increase in market share in severalquarters.

Dell shares were down 15 cents at $20.41 in middaytrading Wednesday.