An ability to provide a flat-rate pricing plan will be a "very big factor" in Gateway's choice of New Zealand Internet service provider for its gatewaynet product.
The US direct PC supplier bought PC Direct from the Blue Star Group late last year and will have its entire range available in both PC Direct and Gateway branded stores on Monday.
Gatewaynet is a component of Yourware, an all-in financed PC ownership package launched about a year ago in the US and in October in Australia. Purchasers get service and support and the right to trade in their PCs at an independently assessed value after two years.
YourWare customers who select gatewaynet receive dial-up Internet access provided by Gateway, acting as what the company calls a "virtual ISP". Gateway buys capacity from UUNet in the US and Telstra's Big Pond in Australia.
Gateway's Australian based marketing manager Michelle Vanzella says Telstra itself no longer offers a flat-rate deal, but Gateway was able to negotiate one on the basis that its customers would not be very heavy users.
Gateway will also need to select a finance company to back up YourWare. AGC, its Australian partner, is a likely candidate, but manufacturing and finance manager Stephen Pearson says a gradual move to Gateway providing its own finance has already begun in the US.
PC Direct's retail branding is to stay for the time being, but from today the stores will sell Gateway computers - leading out with a new range of Pentium III machines, which Gateway has chosen to launch locally on the same day Intel launches its new processor.
The machines are to imported as base units from the company's Malaysian plant and finished at PC Direct's Albany facility. PC Direct's New Zealand managing director David McKee Wright says there have been no job losses at the local plant and he expects it to be busy.
PC Direct's successful online equipment auctions will continue, and Vanzella says they may provide a lead for a Gateway auction site, which have been under discussion "for some time now".
But Gateway's first local job on the Internet will be to take ownership of the domain gateway.co.nz. The domain was registered in May 1997, well before the company founded in 1986 as Gateway 2000 shortened its name.
The name is still registered to Gateway Communications, and the contact is listed as Stuart Wilson, a former employee of NetLink, where the domain is hosted.
Vanzella says lawyers have been negotiating and she is hopeful of the New Zealand operation (which currently uses gw2k.co.nz) being able to use the domain soon. The company has similar problems in Australia, where gateway.net.au and gateway.com.au are both already taken.
The domains gateway.net.nz and gatewaynet.co.nz are still available on the local DNS.