Magazine article Technology & Learning

Tandy Creates Computer City

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Tandy Creates Computer City

Article excerpt

To say that Tandy has made some changes is an understatement. In fact, the changes are so dramatic, and have occurred so quickly, that the rumor mill is filled with speculation about the company's future and its role in education. To find out just what's happening, we spoke at length with Jim McGrody, division manager of Tandy's new Computer City Direct education marketing program. Here's what we learned.

Believe it or not, the company that introduced personal computers to education nearly 16 years ago has left the hardware manufacturing business. It did so by spinning off all of its manufacturing operations to a newly created company called TE Electronics. Selling computers, however, still comprises a major part of Tandy's business--and the company has decided to sell systems from a variety of vendors, including Apple, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM. "We are positioning ourselves as a multi-vendor service organization, and the spinoff of our manufacturing operations is part of that effort," says McGrody. TE Electronics, which will continue to manufacture Tandy computers as well as many other Tandy audio and video hardware products, will serve as just one of many product sources for Tandy's retail operations. "And Tandy is just one of TE Electronics' customers," says McGrody, noting that the spinoff hardware manufacturer will also pursue business with other companies.

A New Name and a New Game

To coincide with Tandy's new multi-vendor retail emphasis, the company has dropped the Tandy name from its promotional efforts in most markets-- including education--and has adopted the name Computer City.

According to McGrody, the new name and the move out of manufacturing are nothing more than a natural reaction to market conditions and company strengths. In stressing the sensibility of the moves, especially in markets such as education, he says, "Tandy has been number three [behind Apple and IBM] in the K-12 market, and clearly the personal computer market is now focused on two platforms-- Macintosh and Windows. To compete successfully, especially in the Windows arena, Tandy needs to break from its identity as a one-brand computer company. Our real strength has always been our retail presence, and that's where we're putting our focus now."

McGrody predicts that other major computer makers will try to follow Tandy into multi-vendor retailing, but he claims that the company's Computer City superstores, which stock more than 7,000 products, give Tandy a leg up on the competition. …

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