In March 1998, when seven system integrators came together in Mumbai to form a group and create a brand called the Millennium PC, their mission was to take on the established brands in the market with a product of superior quality and unmatched service.
Then it seemed to be a promising venture, as all the partners involved were Genuine Intel Dealers (GIDs). All of them had access to CPUs and they hoped to take on the other brands, thanks to of their advantage in sourcing Intel CPUS. An added advantage was that most of them were also Microsoft business partners. The venture seemed destined to succeed. However, two years down the line, the Millennium PC seems to have not had the kind of success that it was supposed to achieve.
This month again the seven companies are coming together — not to launch another brand, but to discuss the future of the Millennium brand. So what happened to the Millennium PC, which was billed as a brand that could deliver in terms of service as well as quality?
All the seven companies did good business in the first year, despite having to sell their own brands. “We are promoting the Millennium brand more than our own brands. After all, what matters is the money we get,” says Chetan Shah of Xpress Computers.
Today, it looks like the Millennium PC is just one of the many brands being introduced in the market every other day various systems integrators. To bring back the lost charm, the seven companies, which include Xpress Computers, Allied Digital Services, Dynacons Systems and Solutions, Visualan Technologies, Thukral’s, Alpha Data, and Omnitech Business Machines, will have a brainstorming session. “New ways of promoting the brand will debated and discussed,” says Chetan.
The first time when such an idea was put together, the group of seven had many plans of doing business together. Of this one was to form a company with its own manufacturing facilities. However, this has been put on hold. “There are a lot of legal issues involved,” says Chetan. “We had discussed and debated the pros and cons. And at least till the next year, we are not planning to form a company or a manufacturing unit,” he adds.
In the initial euphoria of promoting the brand, the group had created a fund in which all the seven members made contributions. But the euphoria evaporated soon after the seven partners exhausted their funds. “We are not doing any active promotion because the kind of response we got due to advertisements was miniscule. Besides, there is no point in spending a Rs 100 crore on ads and get only 20 calls in response,” Chetan adds.
Manoj Shah of Allied Digital has clarified that the Millennium PC is not a brand and it is just a group. “Our brand is called the Gateway, and we are doing pretty well,” clarifies Manoj. Then what is the Millennium PC for? “It makes sense to buy together. You get a good deal when seven companies buy in bulk,” says Manoj.
“The Millennium PC group comes into the picture only when some promotional activities are involved. Intel is sponsoring a lot of its activities, as all the seven companies are GIDs,” says Kavita Singh, Manager (Market Development), Allied Digital.
It should be borne in mind that Intel makes almost everything that goes into a PC. It is common knowledge that it is only “Intel inside,” but “Intel everywhere”. According to reliable sources, Intel is involved even in the pricing of this brand.
In effect, the whole venture is one way of Intel getting GIDs to market their CPUs and other products, says a source in Omnitech Business Machines. In fact, Intel even gives special prices for the Millennium PC. However, the returns from the Millennium PC go to the seven partners alone.
As of now, there have been promotional activities including exhibitions as well as road shows. Buyer’s guides and brochures have also been distributed. Currently, all the promotional activities are concentrated in Mumbai. However, some of them are selling in other cities also through their own branches.
However the Millennium PC cannot be written off. The seven partners are all set to put their heads together and review their strategy for the product, it is learnt.