ByDeborah Austin Dell Computer Corp. and Toshiba Corp. have announced a strategic alliance to share their expertise and offer a broader selection of products to Dell customers. Through the alliance -- worth a potential $5 billion over the next three years -- Dell will purchase Toshiba components, including memory, storage products, and liquid crystal displays. The purchase may expand to bring in other technologies such as batteries and color display tubes. The agreement provides Dell a fast track to Toshiba's products and emerging technologies, says Glenn Neland, Dell vice president of worldwide procurement. Every Dell computer system is built to a specific customer order, and the company has developed supply-chain-management techniques that help it maintain very low component inventories. Headquartered in Round Rock, Tex., the $28.5 billion Dell is a direct computer systems company. Toshiba Corp., a $50-billion-plus maker of information and communications systems, electronic components, consumer products, and power systems, is headquartered in Tokyo.