Alienware -- a company that started making its elite line of gaming computers in a Hialeah garage -- is expanding its reach from six countries to 35 and unveiling next week the new M17x, marketed as the most powerful 17-inch laptop in the world.
But with expansion comes change for the 13-year-old company. Alienware was acquired by Dell three years ago, and about six weeks ago announced it will eliminate manufacturing jobs in its Miami office to use existing Dell facilities elsewhere.
''In order to launch this brand globally, obviously we weren't going to be able to fulfill the products from here in Miami,'' said Arthur Lewis Jr., chief executive of Alienware. ``So we had to leverage existing Dell facilities. We're going to cease manufacturing operations here in Miami, but the development of the product and the braintrust that comes with those products is going to remain here in Miami."
Dell hasn't announced how many of the roughly 300 employees in Miami will lose their jobs, Lewis said, because the layoffs won't happen until the end of the year. Founders Nelson Gonzalez and Alex Aguila left the company in 2007, but still give input on product design marketing from time to time.
''It's a pretty exciting time,'' Lewis said. ``It's nerve wracking for sure for a lot of people because we're going to be growing into so many countries so fast and there's so many new responsibilities . . . we're making sure we get everything just right.''
Among the challenges is programming Alienware's products in 17 languages for all those new countries.
Technology analyst Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group, said Alienware has been struggling to get a voice and stay relevant since its acquisition by Dell.
The sleek M17x will be featured Tuesday at Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. It has an anodized aluminum industrial design, improved performance, ''and even a more aggressive looking logo are all designed to help Alienware stand out in their segment again,'' Enderle said.
And it's certainly a notebook that will catch some attention. Starting at $1,799, the M17x has an illuminated keyboard, and different parts can be customized to glow different colors. Aside from the cutting-edge guts of the machine, the screen is actually better than typical high definition -- it's 1200p, where as the top HD TVs are sold with 1080p.
''Shifting to Dell manufacturing allows them to lower prices while maintaining margins and holding or increasing product quality,'' Enderle said. ``In the end, this should make the unit more competitive in what is a very hard fought and difficult market at the moment.''
It's not the only thing to be launching soon from Alienware.
Be on the lookout for a 42.8-inch curved wide-screen monitor with a resolution of 2880 x 900 pixels, and a response time of less than .02 milliseconds, enough to make any PC gaming enthusiast drool. Price hasn't been set yet, but expect it to be a pretty penny when it comes out later this year.
''What we're trying to do is give the customer the ultimate gaming experience,'' said Alienware executive vice president Frank Azor.