By Jon Fortt
October 24, 2007
Dell’s XPS 420. Image: Dell

Following Apple’s (AAPL) lead, Dell (DELL) is outfitting a new upscale PC with sophisticated software for making videos, managing photos and tweaking audio.

The company announced Tuesday that its new XPS computers will come pre-loaded with versions of Adobe Systems’ (ADBE) Photoshop, Premiere and Soundbooth software. It’s the first time Dell has offered that kind of a software bundle, and the first time Adobe, a recognized leader in creative software, has packaged the three programs together in a suite called Elements Studio.

Adobe said the Dell package is not exclusive.

Karen Plotkin, Dell’s director of consumer desktop marketing, said Dell made the move because customers say they want it. “We’re looking at the customer who wants to get started easily,” she said.

That’s a market Apple has had in its sights for quite a while. Its iLife multimedia programs have helped the company’s computer business outpace rivals, with global shipments growing more than 15 percent in the third quarter compared to the year before.

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Initially, the Adobe bundle on the Dell XPS 420 Multimedia PC will be out of reach for most shoppers. The PC will start at $1,499 at a time when great desktops can be found for half the price. But Dell said that the software will be available on lower-cost computers in the future. The XPS 420 comes with multi-core Intel (INTC) processors, and a choice of ATI (AMD) and Nvidia (NVDA) graphics cards. It runs Microsoft (MSFT) Windows Vista.

The Dell PC will also come with software that speeds the process of preparing video for upload to social networking sites or transfer to portable media players. Dell says its Xcelerator system preps video 25 percent faster than usual, and allows people to keep using their PCs while it works in the background.

Though the software move echoes Apple, Dell’s strategy with the XPS may help it compete with Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), which recently took the number-one spot in global PC shipments, a position long occupied by Dell. HP has lately focused on improving the design of its PCs and adding multimedia options as a way to lure mid-range and high-end consumers.

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