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Dell Delves Into MP3s

It plans to acquire privately held, MP3 software maker Zing Systems for an undisclosed sum.

SAN FRANCISCO --

Dell

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has announced plans to snap up a company that makes software for MP3 players, as the PC vendor sharpens its consumer focus.

Dell said Monday that it plans to acquire privately held

Zing Systems

for an undisclosed sum. Mountain View, Calif.-based Zing develops software that enables consumers to listen to streaming audio and to manage digital music files.

The company's software is featured on the

SanDisk

(SNDK)

Sansa MP3 player, as well as on the

Sirius Satellite Radio

(SIRI) - Get Sirius XM Holdings, Inc. Report

Stiletto 100 handheld device.

Dell said it will use Zing to improve the entertainment experience that its products provide, reflecting, it said, the renewed interest and energy being directed at its consumer business.

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The deal is the latest in a string of acquisitions by the historically M&A-averse Dell. Last week, Dell announced a $340 million deal for

ASAP Software

. And in July Dell said it was acquiring

Silverback Technologies

for an undisclosed sum.

Unlike those deals, which bolstered Dell's corporate software and services businesses, the Zing acquisition signals Dell's intent to make a bigger splash in the consumer market.

Dell has traditionally concentrated on selling PCs and servers to corporations, with its consumer business run as more of an afterthought.

Since founder Michael Dell

returned to the CEO post in January, the company has created a new worldwide consumer group within the company and tapped an executive from

Motorola's

(MOT)

cell phone division to lead the group.

Of course, dreaming up innovative and sexy consumer gadgets is no simple feat at a company such as Dell, which spends relatively little on R&D. The Zing purchase could signal a mindset within Dell that the

PC vendor is better off shopping around for consumer electronics know-how rather than trying to develop it in-house.

Dell said the deal with Zing will not be final until all closing conditions are met.

Shares of Dell were off 24 cents at $27.15 in extended trading Monday.