IBM ramps up direct PC plans

IBM ramps up direct PC plans

IBM recently upped the direct PC ante begun by Dell and more recently Compaq by doubling to 18 the number of PC models that will be available under its buy-today, ship-today program.

Under this program, IBM ships certain PC models on the same day for customers who place their orders by 3 pm EST either via phone or on the Web.

However, an Australian spokesperson for IBM has offered the channel assurance the changes will not take effect here, at least for now.

"I know the US can't stop talking about it [going direct], but we do have a different strategy [in Australia]," the spokesperson said.

Quoting Philip Bullock, director of IBM's personal systems group, he said "we are going to telegraph all our moves.

"The US is aware of our relationships with the channel here."

In the US, IBM will include more models of its ThinkPad notebook computers, Aptiva desktop PCs and its IntelliStation workstations under the expanded program, an IBM spokeswoman said. The latest move is part of IBM's efforts to expand the number of PCs it sells directly to consumers and corporate customers, the spokesperson added.

Over the past few months, IBM has been trying to make it easier for its largest accounts to buy equipment from the company using dedicated extranet links. To date, IBM has set up extranet connections with 400 customer locations worldwide, the spokesperson added.

Starting next week, IBM will also make available a dedicated technical support person to help such companies with the purchase process.

In addition, IBM is continuing to move to a completely build-to-order manufacturing model.

Roughly 14 per cent of IBM's Personal Systems Group revenues are generated through direct sales.

Meanwhile, some 70 per cent of that group's sales are made through channel partners, while IBM's own sales force accounts for the rest.

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