IBM will pull most of its consumer desktop range from stores in the US and sell it exclusively on the internet in a further demonstration of its determination to restore its Personal Systems Group back to profitability.
Big Blue will sell all but its Aptiva PCs through its ShopIBM site from 1 January in a "strategic retreat" from the bruising competition of the PC market.
The decision does not affect IBM's consumer line of Thinkpad I series notebooks which will continue to be sold through retailers and over the Internt. Aptiva PCs will still be available at a handful of OfficeMax retail stores in the US.
A UK spokesman said there are no plans yet to implement the model here.
The move follows the radical overhaul of PSG in a bid to restore it to profitability and competitiveness (PC Dealer, 20 October).
A spokesman for IBM said its overall consumer strategy will be online, with OfficeMax remaining as a "beachhead in the retail market and as a model for the possible return to that market."
But analysts said the OfficeMax approach may not be right for Aptiva as the stores had been created to serve small businesses and not consumers.
Meanwhile, IBM warned that it expects weaker turnover and profit for the next six months because of a Year 2000 slowdown. It recorded profit of USD1.8 billion on turnover of USD21.1bn for the three months ended 30 September, up from profit of USD1.5 billion on sales of USD20bn for the corresponding period last year.
However, Lou Gerstner, chief exective of IBM, said he expected business to perk up. "Next year has the potential to be a good year," he said.
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