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Sony Corp. aims to take a chunk out of Dell Inc.’s market share and boost channel presence by offering customers $500 trade-ins rebates on Dell notebooks and additional funds for resellers.

The San Jose, Calif.-based vendor is offering Go Pro 2, a $500 rebate on its VAIO Professional BX line of notebooks for Dell notebook trade-ins through March 31. The rebate is beyond Sony’s standard $300 trade-in on notebooks from all other manufacturers.

The rebate is only for sales made through Sony VARs.

Resellers will also receive $40 Sales Performance Incentive Funds (SPIFS) on each unit sold, Sony said.

Pointer Click here to read about Dell’s sales slump in 2005.

The incentive would be a boost for VARs struggling against the low prices and direct sales strategy that make Dell the channel’s biggest competitor, said Dale Furnish, president of Dale Furnish & Assocs., of Spokane Valley, Wash., a Sony reseller and government-education VAR.

“Dell is a pain in my side,” he said. “My customers always say, ‘We need a price’ and when I give it to them, they say, ‘Whoa, you’re high.’ ‘Well, where did you get that lower price? Oh, of course, Dell.’

“By the time we go through the specs and show them they’re getting a better product, we’re competitive, but the sales cycle is longer,” he said. “One client of mine, a [Washington]state agency, has about 1,000 units, and I never even get a chance to bid. They go right to Dell. Now, maybe I’ll have something to show them.”

Furnish, who has sold the Sony VAIO for four years, said the notebooks are superior in quality than most products in the market, but price, which starts at more than $1,100 for the BX series, can scare customers away. He cautioned, that the rebate would have to be a true rebate and not a discount on a marked-up product.

Targeting Dell is a route to greater market share, Furnish said.

“There is enough Dell product out there to make this work,” he said, “and Dell is [low-quality] product. If it’s done right, it could make Sony very competitive.”