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IBM

IBM Leaving Retail PC Market 71

SabbathRM sent in this story from nyJournalNews.com about IBM's plan to stop retail distribution of their Aptiva PCs on January first. They'll still be available over the Internet, at least for the present, just not on store shelves.
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IBM Leaving Retail PC Market

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  • Huh?!?!??! IBM supported the PS/2's for at least 10 years!!! IBM has Win2k beta support tips for my three year old laptop (not that I could afford enough ram to run it). Of anything you can criticize IBM for, long term support aint it. Now, their mysterious part numbering system and their spontaneous renumbering can definitely be criticized. Matt
  • Buying a packaged computer from one of these big companies has IMHO always been a stupid thing to do. For starters, they've always been the main distribution channel for Microsoft...You only have to pay Bill's famous operating system tax if you buy a machine from one of these companies.

    For another thing, I've never known anyone who's bought a packaged machine who hasn't received faulty hardware in along with it. I got my first machine second hand in 1994...Since then I've been patching it with parts as I've needed to, and only recently bought and entirely new case and keyboard. With the exception of the original motherboard (which was due to bad wiring in this house anywayz) I've never had a problem with hardware.
    Not so for other people I've known who've bought packages. Bad hard drives, bad monitors etc...They've had to take them back to the company several times in some cases.

    My third gripe with the big companies is that they rip people off. Back in 94 when I got my first 486 I got it for $2100 AUD. That was a 419 Mb hard drive, monitor, keyboard, 8 Mb of old DRAM, a Trident 1 Mb video card (good at the time), and an ESS 688 sound card, not to mention the loads of warez that was preinstalled on the hard drive. *grin* I wouldn't have seen a machine at that time like that for less than probably $2500 AUD, and my recent upgrade to a Celeron 400 with 64 Mb of SDRAM, a new case, a Voodoo Banshee 16 Mb video card, 13 Gb hard drive cost me and PS/2 keyboard cost $960 as I already had a monitor, mouse, soundcard and 33.6k modem. I wouldn't have seen a recent package with the stuff I got when I upgraded for less than $1200, and in most cases I'd have paid a heap more for the hard drive in particular, so I saved at least $300.

    The moral of the story is that if you want to buy a reliable, cheap PC and you don't want to have to be dictated to by the likes of Microsoft and others, then companies like Compaq, Dell, Gateway and so on are absolutely for the birds. They give you nothing you do need, and everything you don't.

  • Apparently, you don't have one of the Craptivas with the infamous MWave modem!!!!! I had to buy a 3Comm modem and a soundblaster sound card to run Red hat!!!
  • The point of the design was to make the machine look good for the home PC market, and let's face it, it did look cool. They were aiming the machine at trendy newbies who have no intention of ever running a proper OS on their slick new PC.
  • precisely. I had 6 PC300PL/GLs last year, and they held NT4 up longer than anything else. great components and they didn't die when the A/C did (unlike the gateway2K) In fact the only thing better was an RS6000 which crashed in June for the first time since 1995.
  • I've never had any problem getting support out of them for their high-end server products here in the UK. I've just had bad experiances obtaining desktop support.

    I agree with you on the part numbering system though!
  • When I want a computer, usually I wanted it yesterday. I've bought both HP and IBM Aptivas, and of the pre-packaged computer choices, I find the Aptivas to be by far the best. They have nice big cases, they're easy to open, memory slots right in. And so far my systems have been very reliable.

    On the other hand, the systems I buy are always the open box discounted units, so I daresay I haven't given IBM much in the way of profits from my purchases. The open box systems are significantly cheaper and still work great.

    I will admit that it bugs me that they've cheaped out on the keyboard, but the last one I bought cost me less than $ 400. And at this very moment, it's running BeOS just fine.

    I suppose they had to do something to cut off the bleeding of cash, but I wish they hadn't killed off retail sales entirely.

    ThinkPads are the best - I'm using one that's almost three years old (running Linux), and I still love it. To the person who said that they would be doomed because "normal" PC sales support them, I'd like to say that I doubt it. I don't think my ThinkPad has /any/ components in common with an Aptiva. Aren't even the CPUs different?

    D

    ----
  • Uhhh...It was designed by a few ubergeeks. They were NeXT employess.

    Has anyone noticed the similarities between the Aptiva and the NeXT cube? One of my floormates has it, and it looks a whole lot like my cube. There is a main unit that has no parts that the user would touch (at least on mine. Some have floppies and optical disks). The keyboard, mouse, monitor, and sound connect to the console which is connected to the base unit by a long tether.

    In my mind, the stealth Aptiva is the consumer incarnation of the design of the NeXT cube. And they sure do look cool, don't they?



    --
    Max V.
  • Most of you guys have missed what they did. IBM has teamed up with the 5th largest internet site. An e-commerce company with 30-40 million hits a day. It ran 'em clean out of their desktops. It may be worth noting here, that the site has only been up a month. Clue: IBM knows where the money is. Now, I have my gripes with a LOT about IBM, but hey- they know how to make money with this move. Guaranteed. Wanna find out more about that e-commerce company? More of us can profit by this instead of just BIG BLUE. E-mail me. -HQML@HOTMAIL.COM (Yes, hotmail.- on purpose. :) )
  • IBM Aptivas used to come with those Mwave modems, which were probably the worst modems on earth, an ISP's tech support's nightmare. Then they got those LT winmodems which were better, but still can be a pain. Good ridance, Aptivas.

    Customer: "I thought I was getting the best in the business when I purchased an IBM!"
  • I think a few things need to be cleared up:
    Aptivas have always been a high end, multimedia "gadget-focused" home system. They've never done well, retail-wise, outside of Radio Shack outlets. Just too expensive.
    This is a move on their part to lower costs and to stop competing with sub-par personal computer manufacturers in the retail market...such as Packard Bell, NEC (same thing), and CTX.
    This doesn't have ANYTHING to do with the IBM PC line, which is a line targeted at medium-large business desktops. We happen to use PC 300PLs here as a standard desktop, very reliable machines. They aren't going anywhere...they consistently get very high ratings in reviews and they'll continue to get high amounts of deployments in corporations.
    I doubt you'll see a major shit in the next couple years in the way computers are sold, at least in regards to retail sales. The cheap CPU (AMD, Celery), cheap part vendors will continue to pump out machines to go onto those Best Buy, Staples, Circuit City and Officemax storeshelves. And people will continue to buy them because they're that stupid.


    -witz

    This is old news anyway, why's it on /.?
  • Hey, does this mean that aptiva home PC I've got sitting in the corner of my basement is a collectors item now!?

    What about those old Ps/1s!?

    I'm not sure how I feel about this overall.. it's not like there's not a million other 'box vendors' out there.. but kind of sad to see someone abandoning the market.... wonder who's next? I mean, yeah, IBM boxen have always been overpriced, but they *usually* had decent parts inside atleast. :) (and that nifty stylish black two peiece model with the 'stealth' part that went under the monitor and held the floppy and cdrom.. oh come on, that HAD to be dreamed up by a uber-geek. :snicker:... even if it did make repairs a pain. :)
  • by valen ( 2689 ) on Tuesday October 19, 1999 @05:39AM (#1602563) Homepage
    Some chance. They are going to find themselves trying to play catchup with Dell (between their standard site and www.gigabuys.com they are trying to sew the online PC market up). This is IBM's way of saying "Fair enough. We've had enough". The economies of scale companies get from bulk-manufacture of PC's, as well as the clout they get in getting first-dibs on scarce parts (like RAM and LCD screens) mean that companies like IBM and Siemens that are trying to make money by flogging not-much-better-than-dell/compaq PCs, but charging a lot more, are going to get swept away. There is money to be made by selling PCs in retail, to morons that don't know better, but it's a shrinking market.
  • by rde ( 17364 ) on Tuesday October 19, 1999 @05:39AM (#1602564)
    We've all been listening to people for years saying that the internet is the way of the future, but there's been little tangible evidence; the web has been viewed traditionally by businesses as a way of supplementing existing sales models rather than supplanting them.

    "In the eyes of many people, this will mean that IBM is pretty much getting out of the consumer business"
    Possibly. But it'll be interesting to see if this view still holds this time next year. Certainly if I were buying a laptop, I'd do it over the web. I imagine I'm not the only one.
  • Funny how IBM gets out of solid stores and goes to online only. Meanwhile Gateway (was it last year?) which was an internet (or phone) only store goes to having their own stores.
    The article said that IBM thought they had problems differentiating their product from the rest of the market and I can understand why. Mainly I think the three largest problems they had were 1)no good marketing, 2)badly trained sales people, 3)bad image.
    1) Bad marketing - Common buy a cow you want a cow. And our boxes are waterproof! Only offering proof by contradiction here.
    2) Sales people - they were selling the machines at Radio Hut. My god the few sales people I talked to there had such a hard time telling Apples from PCs. It was kinda frightening. The last sales person finally got rid of me by saying he liked the speakers and turning them up really loud.
    3) Image - IBM still looked like a big business company. Not something for homw users. I mean Gateway saws that cows will be there to help me if I call ;).
    -cpd
  • I think this is mislabled. They seem to be just abandoning the brick-and-mortar, like everybody else, not pulling out of the market entirely.

    fh
  • For the longest time, IBM has produced a sub-par PC and lived off of the fact that they have the bi9ggest name in the computer industry. Aptiva PC's are full of low-quality, entirely proprietary parts. Try getting the Aptiva with the SCSI-wannabe connector (the one that holds the CD-ROM drive and the floppy drive, as well as the power button, in a different box from everything else) to work in Linux. I'll bet a dollar to a dime it can't be done.

    I have said many times that IBM is the worst computer manufacturer in the business because of this. Imagine if Linus sold his name to MS to be packaged with Windows! We'd freak! This couldn't be better!
    Brad Johnson
    Advisory Editor

  • This is by no means a good thing for those who aren't that exerienced in PC shopping, i.e. the typical family who heads off to Best Buy to pick up a computer. The article says that IBM had 10% of the home PC market, which isn't that great, but at least its a lot of people who aren't purchasing garbage machines like Compaq or *shudder* Packard Bell. Hopefully, they will reenter the retail market at some point (tip: lower prices a bit. That certainly couldn't hurt any...)
  • by yoshi ( 38533 ) on Tuesday October 19, 1999 @05:46AM (#1602569)
    I realize that the story was skeptical, but IBM doesn't make decisions lightly. They make mistakes, sure, but carefully thought-out mistakes, and historically, they have made a lot of very good decisions.

    Selling computers through the internet has a couple of advantages:
    1. lower overhead (at least in theory)
    2. presentation control
    The first is obvious, but the second is, in my opinion, more crucial. The computer market has grown in complexity, and retail stores have not kept up. Sure, their are some bright people out there working at Best Buy and Circuit City, but for the most part these people, in my experience, are sorely in need of information.

    Differentiation is vital to a company like IBM. They charge more for the "same" machine as some competitors, and therefore, they have to make the consumer aware of the IBM added value. With web sales, they can control and monitor the information made available to the consumer, and that is a real boon.

    I don't know that this will really bring about the end of the (indirect) retail channel, but it wouldn't surprise me to see others follow suit. Look how well Dell and Gateway do, despite their products' premiums - they have primarily direct (that is, more controlled)-channel sales.

    -Yoshi
  • by Enoch Root ( 57473 ) on Tuesday October 19, 1999 @05:46AM (#1602570)
    The IBM PC's were crap. They ran slow, and I could get more performance out of a Compaq 350 MHz than an IBM 450 MHz. No, that's not flamebait; that opinion comes from certifying IBM PCs for an IBM branch.

    However, I would have thought IBM would have clung to the PC market for longer than that... They did launch the whole PC trend in the early 1980's.

    As it's been pointed out, the machines will continue to be available throughout the Internet, which means companies will still be able to honour that IBM-exclusive deal they signed. I have a feeling companies don't much care for performance, anyway...

    Good news is, they're staying with the ThinkPads. These machines are slick! However, I can bet they won't stay competitive for very long... Producing laptops works much better when you're also making PCs. Give IBM a few years, and the ThinkPads will be gone as well.

    "There is no surer way to ruin a good discussion than to contaminate it with the facts."

  • "...less than two weeks after the division said it would eliminate as many as 1,000 employees..."
    I think I'd consider that going overboard a little. What possible justification could this division have for killing 1,000 people? better yet, does this division have the authorization to decide that or did they have to go to the IBM head council? Regardless to the answers to these questions, IBM must be stopped at any cost.
  • I wouldn't doubt that other companies that sell computer packages (such as Compaq) aren't doing as well as they used too either. It seems to me that as the general public becomes more and more computer literate, they are starting to have their computers cutom made by smaller computer stores. Which is the cheaper and better way to go. Even people who know nothing about computers often have a friend who can help them with this. I wouldn't doubt these larger companies begin to offer more customizable packages in the future, just to compete.
  • I wonder how long support for the Aptiva range is going to be provided by IBM after 1st Jan 2000. IMHO IBM have always been poor in their provision of support services for desktop machines.
  • I'll trade you mine for a picachu
  • IBM have been selling the concept of E-Business being the way forward for a few months now. Are they finally taking their own advice after being thrashed by other manufactures in the online sales market?

    Selling online is a good thing but for the forseable it will not be as popular to purchasing offline (is that the correct term?) because of the ability to touch, taste and smell your prospective purchase

    Personally I feel that IBM are making a mistake by pulling out of stores - you can't beat the selling power of touch!
  • Is this a subtle way of telling us that the Aptiva range of machines aren't Y2K compliant?
  • Ahhh, I've never had the joyful experience of seeing a NeXT cube first hand. :( So I wouldn't know how to relate the two, I just know I liked those stealth 'beamers. :)

    Of course, you know I'm going to have to hunt down pictures of NeXT boxen on the web now, right? :) And here I thought Sun pizza boxes were the nicest. :)
  • Where's my dollar? I've been running RH Linux 6.0 on my two-piece wannabe-SCSI Aptiva since 6.0 was released. Was rebooted once for a kernel upgrade. It's currently my Netatalk fileserver behind my firewall for my LAN and a damn-cool X-Window System terminal to sit at running Windowmaker. Not the fastest system on the planet, mind you, but Good Enough (tm). =)

    --

  • It's likely that I'm not the first to comment on this, but I have to point it out. The article claims that the IBM PC was the first popular personal computer... but it only came out in 1981, when the Apple II had already been around for a full 4 years.

    When the Apple II was introduced at the First West Coast Computer Faire, it was an instant hit. It has been popular ever since, with fan pages all over the world. So I think it's fair to say that it was the first popular PC.
  • Way to miss the point! My post was a joke, playing on the fact that the article said that IBM "eliminated" people. stupid
  • When I was in high school we setup a new Model 60 as a server. Had a whole pile of Model 25s (Mac like) and 30s as clients.

    Up until 6 months ago I was still using a Model 70 (386/20). Great little box and must have been worth a small fortune new. I wanted to gut the components out of it and use the case for new stuff, but it just wasn't feasible. It started with the funky power supply and just got worse.

    Still use my original AT keyboard though!

    GRH
  • The consumer market always seemed to elude IBM. They should really get out of the desktop PC market altogether -- Craptivas were never really able to compete on cost or technical superiority, and liked to introduce bugs on top of the problems that already existed in Windows:

    • Rapid Resume ('nuff said)
    • The Mwave modem

    The Mwave was more evil than any Winmodem, although I think it actually had dedicated hardware (it had a DOS config utility). Hmm, do you want a sound card, a modem, or both? Take your pick, then go back to the utility before you start a game or get on the Internet...

    • 28.8 modem w/o sound
    • 14.4 modem with 8 bit audio
    • no modem and 16 bit sound

    IBM would do everyone a favor if they simply dropped the Craptiva line altogether. Radio Shack won't even sell the things anymore, and they peddled those crappy Tandy, then AST machines...

    Radio Shack is the *only* game in town for computer supply in America's heartland. It's very simple out there -- among those with computers, the 'haves' own Compaqs, and the 'have nots' own IBMs. Radio Shack *used to* sell IBMs, now they sell Compaqs. It's as simple as that.

  • Yeah, like the guy at digital said: "There is a market for maybe four or five computers world-wide." Seriously, it's good that these guys to be leaving the field: IBM PCs have long been a boon to support(at least at my helpdesk). However, let's bow our heads in silence for the death of a company that brought us interesting hardware innovations (some of which we use now) such as: MicroChannel Architecture, PS/2 ports, AT form factor... Christ, an arguement could be made that we owe them for PC architecture in general. I never liked IBM's machine, but let's at least recognize them as the longest running x86 PC maker...
  • IBM's sales losses on the Aptiva series have been about equal to the profits from the Thinkpad series. In these times when everyone is making PCs in their garage and selling them the name IBM doesn't mean much compared to the significant price difference.

    They've always made their sales based on superior technical service, but it seems that recently no one is mentioning about that. I recently went into a major computer store (that shall remain anonymous) and pretended to no little about PCs in order to ask the dumb/fun questions. The salesperson showed me the IBMs they had in stock first. When I asked what all I would be getting for that price He immediately moved me over to the e-machine-like PCs, never mentioning why IBMs cost more.

    I can't say I didn't see this move coming. You dont stay the biggest name in the computer industry by losing millions a year when you dont have to do so.
  • Hmmmm. "First publicly-accepted PCs", eh? Gee, I guess that makes me a loser for having a TRS-80 in 1977, along with Apple for producing all those Apple II machines prior to 1981, not to mention all the other PC makers that were quite popular prior to IBM's first personal computer.

    I mean, please. Phrases like "helped usher in the computer revolution nearly two decades ago" or "the market that it helped spark" could have just been cut and pasted from IBM's press release. (Or one of Apple's for that matter...)

    Amazing that even though Microsoft directs the future of PCs more than any other single company, IBM still means "personal computer" to the average reporter. Then again, these are the same people who can't get the difference between hacker and cracker straingt in their heads.

  • YIPPEEEEEEEE!!! You mean no more calls to IBM tech support that begins with you dialing some 800 number, getting a human after 30 minutes listening to IBM propaganda, being told to call another number, more propaganda, being told to call the FIRST number you called, hanging up in frustration and wondering just where in the hell the last 90 minutes went??? Oh, wait... they didn't say they were going to stop selling AS/400's. *grin*

    --bc


    --------------------------
  • Are you kidding? You're going to spend ~$3k with out touching, seeing, or holding an item that you might spend 10+ hours a day with?

    I just bought a laptop. I ended up with a Compaq because I could find retail outlets that had some in stock. I did not buy a VIAO because I couldn't find one on a shelf anywhere to feel what it was like (weight, balance, "solidness", etc).

    [As a side note, I couldn't even tell Sony this because I couldn't find a feedback email address anywhere on their sight.]

    People still like to touch the goods their going to buy. I'd bet that IBM's internet sales slow now that users can't go to the store to evaluate the product, then go buy it on the internet.

    Joe
  • The traditional way of selling computers through resellers is going to eventually go by the wayside. There are just too many advantages of the "Direct Model". Michael Dell really hit on the right idea and has made it the basis of Dell. Other "legacy" companies are having a hard time cutting out the middle man they so firmly entrenched, and are, I'm sure, regretting their dependency on the current infrastructure. Dell is exploding in Canada right now, and doing very well in the US. Why? Because we^H^Hthey are sticking with off the shelf parts, off the shelf software, direct sales, direct support, and outsourcing the services portion of the business to multiple companies. IBM can only hope to have that kind of approach. There's too much cruft in IBM's business model to make it lean enough to compete with the direct sales of Dell. They realize that, though, and that's where the 9 billion deal for parts came from. There's a lot of room for companies to make money from Dell's success, and it looks like IBM is realizing that. They have to, or course, keep a hand in the market if just to keep up appearances, though.
    Okay, end of commercial.
  • Basicly I think the Aptiva computer isn't all that good, and I'll go mildly on it. Personally I think they suck. With the experiences I had with Aptiva's I think you could have expected this in a way.

    The reason why I personally feel Aptiva's suck it the simple fact that I owned one for 1 weekend and that was the 1st and last time I ever owned an IBM desktop computer; it was allmost 2 years ago (end '97 / begin '98) and I was, next to Linux, pretty deep into OS/2. Heck; I mainly choose the Aptiva (could buy it from work so I got a bit cheaper) because I was very hooked on OS/2. Everything went fine in the beginning; I just bought myself Tombraider II and was looking forward to play around a bit that same friday evening.

    The horror immediatly struck me; Lara turned white at a resolution of 800x600:32! The videocard was an ATI Rage 3d (pro I believe). I figured it was just the game and started partitioning. I wanted; win95, WinNT, OS/2 and a little part for Linux.

    That was the beginning & the end of that first weekend in '98 for me and I'm still pissed by it. I downloaded all the OS/2 drivers I needed for the Aptiva I got but at the very beginning OS/2 refused to partition my harddisk! Wasn't supported. So I called the helpdesk and they pointed me to another driver. Didn't do it. 3 different drivers later it sorta worked; I got OS/2 finally installed. And then my sound didn't work, my video was totally crap (640x480:16), and I kept getting harddisk errors from time to time.

    I'm pretty sure I spend over 2 - 4 hours in calling the helpdesk (and believe me; I'm not that demanding but I did want to see the IBM computer I bought working with IBM's OS) and finally we came to the conclusion that this computer wasn't capable in running OS/2 which still eludes the helpdesk operator (we kept in touch) and myself. Fortunatly I could get my money back and later I decided to buy all the different parts I needed & assemble the PC myself and up until now I'm very happy with it. It even ran Tomb Raider II happily in 1024x768:32.

    But if this is the sort of PC IBM delivered back then (and I heard more stories from people who also share these experiences) then I feel it sucks. You pay more for the IBM brand and then I expect an IBM software product to run. Not some Win95/98 OS because allmost every PC can run that sort of thing. I refuse to spend some 1500 Dutch Guilders extra just because a PC has the IBM name on it. After reading this article I guess more people felt the same way.

    However; if the Aptiva dissapears then it doesn't have to result in IBM leaving the consumers market. They can allways come up with a new line which should be far more easy for them to accomplish these days; Major contestants are Win9x, WinNT (which will surely run on an Aptiva based machine) and Linux. I'm sure those will run on some 'Aptiva-2' line.

  • IBM isn't exiting the PC business nor is it exiting all of the channels to sell them. It's exiting the on-site retail storefront distribution channel for low end consumer PCs like Aptivas. The higher models like the Intellistations, Netfinity servers and the like will still be sold the way they were before and Aptivas will be sold direct. Moreover who wants an $800 PC with custom hardware, MWave modems, special drivers, custome form factors and the like? If they want to go grey box then that's what they should do.
  • Here's a pretty picture from NeXT advertising: http://www.deepspacetech.com/Info/NeXT_Brochures/n extcube.jpg

    And here's another classic picture of a cube: http://www.tardis.ed.ac.uk/~alexios/MACHINE-ROOM/i mages/pics/NeXT_Cube.jpg

    The slabs are slightly different. There are two generations. The first generation slabs are just like the cube, but they have a much shorter tether, and the cpu sits under the screen.

    Oh, the screen is pretty cool. It is a beautiful greyscale fixed frequency monitor with a keyboard connector on the back. It also handles all of the audio for the system with stereo miniplug and RCA jacks.

    The color slabs have an external sound box that serves as the connector for the keyboard, mouse and monitor. They also use traditional fixed-frequency workstation monitors.

    They're magnificent machines that were way ahead of their time. I used my NeXT cube every day. I still use NEXTSTEP on an HP Apollo. For an operating system that has not been modified since 1996, it is surprisingly functional. The UI is a delight.

    --
    Max V.
  • Perhaps we can finally get rid of always buying new IBMs at school; not surprised that they lose to Dell. The PCs are OK, but they are _always_ having their own weirdnesses. You have to make holes inside just to get a CD-ROM cable working! Their BIOS is awful -- stick to Award, people. And the machines tend to have all kinds of weird compatibility problems.
    Their support seems OK, though -- some stupid guy set the `power switch' on a 486 to 110V (we use 220V), and the machine went OOMPH and up in smoke. They fixed it for free... A 486...

    /* Steinar */
  • IBM supported the PS/2's for at least 10 years!!! IBM has Win2k beta support tips for my three year old laptop (not that I could afford enough ram to run it). Of anything you can criticize IBM for, long term support aint it.

    How about another example of long-term support? I was given a PC/XT a while back that wasn't registering the proper amount of memory (it had 640K, but was coming up with some completely different number). After digging around a bit with the search engines, I found a page [ibm.com] buried in one of IBM's foreign websites that had the jumper (switch, actually) configuration for all of IBM's older machines. I think the only other company that comes close to providing that level of legacy support is Apple, which (I think) still has operating systems for the Apple IIs on its site.

  • I have an OLD IBM PS/1 and it has NEVER frose/crashed/lostinformation etc etc.. it's ran flawlessly! AND IT'S Y2K READY! :) it's the best pc i've ever owned!
  • I doubt this means as much as people think. I suspect that IBM sells far more PCs to businesses then through the retail market. There are still a lot of managers out there (usually with "VP" in their title) who still remember the old adage "no one ever got fired for buying IBM". They tend to buy PCs in lots of 100 or 1000.

    Because of this, I've used a number of IBM PCs. Some sucked rocks, others were really nice. I actually have an odd affection for the old original microchannel line. Those machines were solid as a rock and could be disassembled with a quarter.

    It is so sad when computers go obsolete. The day after I started at my first real job, the head programmer got an IBM Model 80 (a 25 Mhz 386). I remember feeling incredibly jealous. Just a few months ago, I worked for a company that was finally putting 150 of them out of service. They are only so much junk, now. sigh...
  • IBM always enters and leaves markets. It's hardly news. In a year or so, they'll reenter with a new strategy. Capitalism and competitive markets are creative destruction, and you have to keep changing to stay afloat, even if you don't stay afloat as IBM doesn't at the low end.

    Look, the market doesn't have preferences much different from your own: sometimes you want something right away so you go to a retail store next door, and other times you think you might be returning it soon so you go to a retail store next door, and sometimes you think you'll need post-sales in-person support so you go to the retail store next door, and the rest of the time you like the quiet, low-cost, efficiency of the giant mail-order places so you order from them.

    Sometimes you use the phone to call your vendors, sometimes you'll use the web, and sometimes you'll use "sneaker-net" and walk over there.

    And, yep, web will allow more virtual reality inspection of products in the future, and will enable complex retail relationships where you order centrally nationally customizedforyouably and the computer will get delivered with your Peapod/HomeRuns/Whatever grocery service.

    Various retail channels will change, but they're all pretty much here to stay.

  • Here's how it played out in my shop:
    Guy comes in and wants the latest software on his brand new, helped-him-take-it-out-of-the-box Aptiva yesterday. Put MS office 97 on it, McAfee's virus scanner... Then I started playing around with it, looking at what it shipped with. Cool, 96MB RAM. Oh, look, a CD burner! I looked, and looked, and looked...

    There was no software to support a CD burner. At all.

    IBM is pulling out? I'm really not surprised.

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