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Macy's And Dell: What's The "Future" Behind Their Launch?

Dell Laptops
AP
Dell Laptops

Every once in awhile there is a partnership or corporate event that sort of makes you scratch your head. Journalists and analysts are paid to connect the dots but on both fronts, the people I've spoken with today are wondering what's behind Dell's choice to launch its new product line at Macy's in Herald Square.

The launch will be Tuesday morning in Manhattan and Dell executives including Sr. Vice President Alex Gruzen will be on hand for the runway show of products. Here's the curious part: Macy's does not sell computers. In fact, they have not sold them since the 1980s. You can buy laptop carrying cases, iPod speaker systems and all sorts of digital clock pieces but those seem to be the only hardware that the department store stocks.

While Dell executives and Macys executives remain mum on just what we can expect to see on the runway Tuesday morning from Dell, the invitation says to expect the "new devices" will "go with everything in your wardrobe." That description has lead many to speculate that the line will be a new round of colorful laptops that will compete with Apple's image conscious and popular iMac books. (Check out this blog for pictures of what many believe will be the laptop shown tomorrow.)

According to the invite, the launch is part of a "trend at Dell" (read rebranding of its consumer computer product lines.) Just whether Macys will be a retailer that will carry that line is unclear. There has been a LOT of speculation about just which retailer will be the next distribution point for Dell products--given the struggling computer company's recent announcement that Wal-Mart will be the first brick and mortar retailer to carry the company's product. Most analysts are eager to hear whether Dell will sell at Circuit City , Best Buy or any of the consumer electronics stores that actually DO SELL computers. All of this makes tomorrow's event all the more intriguing.

Another interesting part of the equation is why Macy's would choose to get involved with this event tomorrow. According to Macy's press office, the Herald Square location was selected due to its "world famous" setting and the desire for Dell to be associated with a "fashion" conscious brand. Here's the problem with that explanation: It is hard to believe though that Dell couldn't think of other retail sites or famous locales for its brand positioning event.

The only computer-related part of Macy's business that the company has been very public about wanting to expand is the online segment NOT actually hardware. Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren has been focusing on ramping up Macy's online sales. According to Internet Retailer, Macys.comand its Bloomingdales.comsites brought in online sales of $620M last year, up 38% from the year before.

Stay tuned for a glimpse of what the new laptops will look like. We'll post pictures from the launch tomorrow.

Questions? Comments? retaildetail@cnbc.com