While processor speeds and memory storage improved on this year's PCs, prices dropped, forcing the PC industry to get creative in the making and marketing of its products. The lower PC prices left some manufacturers with difficult decisions. For example, NEC recently dismantled Packard Bell, after admitting it could not help the brand recover from financial losses. The name will still exist in Europe, but in the U.S. what's left of the company has been absorbed into the NEC name. IBM pulled out of the retail channel, hoping to garner some of the successes Dell and Gateway enjoy by concentrating on a direct sales strategy. A

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