Computer titan Dell – the world’s biggest PC manufacturer – is expanding into consumer electronics.

The US firm hopes to offer flat-screen television sets and digital music players, plus an expanded range of handheld computers. Moreover, it is setting up a consumer-oriented online store to sell them.

At present, Dell specialises in vending PCs to business customers, and has pioneered the use of direct sales and low-cost manufacturing to undercut competitors.

Analysts expect it to use a similar business model in the $100 billion (€87.0bn; £60.3bn) consumer electronics market. The television sector appears particularly ripe for direct development, as existing operators still rely on retail distribution.

Dell is not the only PC firm looking outside its traditional market, where sales are slow, prices falling and margins thin. Hewlett-Packard is also said to have investigated flat-screen TVs, while computer maker and retailer Gateway began offering plasma television sets in its stores last year.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff