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Tech Buzz 09/03

Rebates on old handhelds; an update on IT outsourcing

The Great Rebate
How about turning your old computers into a down payment on newer technology? An increasing number of rebate opportunities are popping up from vendors caught in a three-year PC sales slowdown and trying to encourage repeat business-or any business.

For example, Palm ran a promotion earlier this year offering a $50 rebate for trading in an older PDA. Hewlett-Packard also had an offer in which brand-name trade-ins could be worth as much as $220 off the price of a new Evo desktop. HP even took care of shipping costs for the old equipment, saving entrepreneurs a significant amount in disposal costs. Retailers' desire to tap local small- and midsize-business markets also works to your advantage Manufacturers are reaching out all the time through store sales channels, so don't overlook the availability of rebates at the electronics store or small reseller down the street.


31%
of the largest U.S. companies ignore online queries from customers.

If you missed these opportunities, don't worry. Rebate offers typically run for a limited time, but new incentives quickly pop up to replace expired ones. You can expect deals like these to appear as long as PC sales are slumping and competition between brands remains tight. You want to get the most from your equipment, but today's software slows down a PC past its prime-and you and your workers with it. Pairing specials with lowered prices makes this a good time to refresh the hardware you've been holding off upgrading.

Tech Takeout
With the economy tight, more entrepreneurs are outsourcing their IT support headaches and saving money doing it. Forrester Research says IT outsourcing is the fastest-growing area of the technology services market. Outsourcing by growing businesses covers the gamut, from tech support to online CRM applications.

When choosing a service provider, be sure it caters to the needs of a small business rather than just enterprise-size applications. This is why Internet-based offerings from ASPs are doing well as secure and centralized ways to store and organize valuable data. ASPs can be accessed from anywhere and tend to have lower upfront costs and monthly overhead than dedicated on-site installations. For news and information, visit the Outsourcing Center and check out ASPStreet.com for a directory of providers. For more on outsourcing your Net operations, read this month's "Net Profits" column.

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This article was originally published in the September 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Tech Buzz 09/03.

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