IBM thinks back to the future

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IBM's PC division is using its antique “Think” slogan as a new brand across its entire PC line under a global marketing strategy that will see it progressively re-brand its PCs, notebooks and related management software throughout 2003.

The re-badged “Think” PCs - which will roll out over the coming months - will include IBM's existing and successful notebook, the ThinkPad, a ThinkCentre line of desktops (formerly NetVista), ThinkVision monitors and display units, Think accessories and services, a software range dubbed ThinkVantage Technologies and ThinkVantage Design.

IBM legend Tom Watson Snr first used the “Think” slogan to rev up the sales troops at NCR, where he worked before joining IBM in 1914. He disciplined salesmen with the line: " 'I didn't think' has cost the world millions of dollars."

Watson took the motto with him to IBM and a famous photo portrait of Watson Snr, glaring from his desk beneath the “Think” logo, helped scare the competition in the forties.

Under the latest “Think” strategy, IBM is touting reduced PC ownership costs and easier PC infrastructure management with a bunch of pre-loaded software tools that will ship with the re-badged machines.

The company has packaged its range of PC management tools under the ThinkVantage brand. These tools include its recently released Image Ultra Builder software which lets users create multiple PC images that can be used across several machines including non-IBM PCs; its System Migration assistant, software that saves and migrates user profiles and settings when changing to another machine.

Other applications include the Rapid Restore OS and application recovery program; the Embedded Security System that lets users lock and encrypt PC data, an Access Connection wizard that stores connection profiles for Ethernet, token ring and wireless connections.

Michael Nash, AP executive, marketing execution at IBM PCD, said the company is trying to differentiate from other PC vendors by addressing ownership costs and management of PCs. He claimed that 80 percent of the cost of a PC is in the ownership and not the acquisition. “It's not about the box, it's about what I can do with the box to make life easier for everyone,” he said.

Santo Pappalardo, MD at one of IBM's largest distributors IT Wholesale, said the re-branding shows that the company is committed to the PC brand in the future. e likened the move to IBM's re-branding of its NetFinity server line to E-server, saying that this exercise paid off. “Reading between the lines I'd say that they're trying to emulate that,” he said. “It's not going to change our life but from a branding [perspective] it could work well,” he said.

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