IBM to release PCs for SMBs

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IBM has ramped up its Express offering targeting Australian SMBs, releasing desktops and notebooks for that market on 11 November backed by a new channel marketing push.

IBM has ramped up its Express offering targeting Australian SMBs, releasing desktops and notebooks for that market on 11 November backed by a new channel marketing push.

Phil Cameron, channels manager for IBM Australia's Personal Computing Division (PCD), said the vendor was releasing six desktops and six ThinkPad notebooks re-configured and priced to appeal to SMBs.

The PC Express release was part of Big Blue's overarching Express brand push into that market announced earlier this year.

In conjunction with the hardware launch, the vendor was putting together its first SMB-focused catalogue incorporating the Express-branded products. 'The benefits for the channel include the demand generation around the SMB catalogue and consistent channel margins,' Cameron said.

Margins for the range would not necessarily be better than IBM's 400 Australia and New Zealand partners had been getting but would be predictable, he added.

Central to the marketing push would be the free-standing advertising inserts for partners to target to their own market niches. 'We will [also] have a new planning model with our distributors ... to support the products,' he said.

Steven Worrall, GM of SMB business for IBM Australia and New Zealand, said the SMB push was as important for IBM as its move into services had been ten years ago. 'SMBs are where it's all happening. SMB customers are now starting to understand how to apply technology to produce business benefits,' he said.

IBM first announced the SMB-focused Express portfolio of open-standards-based products on 18 February at its annual PartnerWorld conference in New Orleans, following up with two re-jigged and scaled-back versions of WebSphere middleware - WebSphere Commerce Express and WebSphere MQ Express - for Australian companies in June.

Worrall said the next Express announcement, timed for the first quarter of 2004, would be a services offering. More Express software was also expected around that time, he said.

IBM's Express brand targets companies with 100 to 1000 employees and will eventually encompass software, hardware and services offerings rolled out over 18 months, Worrall said.

All Express offerings are 'Business Partner-enabled', meaning that partners can either sell or recommend IBM Express offerings to their customers and receive lead pass fees or other forms of compensation from IBM.

IBM has traditionally been seen as focused on large corporates but now has around 6000 people 'dedicated to SMB business' in Australia and New Zealand.

The new PC Express hardware will include ThinkPad notebook such as the R40e, with Intel Celeron 2.2GHz, 256MB, 30GB, 14.1' XGA, DVD (fixed), modem, 10/100 Ethernet, Windows XP Professional and a one-year warranty for RRP $1899, and ThinkCentre desktops such as the A30, with Pentium 4 2.66GHz, 256MB, 40GB(7200), CD, wheel mouse, Windows XP Professional (Desktop) for an RRP of $1250 including GST.

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