In 1998, IBM lost $1bn on PC sales and since then there has been growing speculation that the company will close its PC division.
Ken Batty, marketing manager for the Personal Systems Group in IBM UK and Ireland said, "The rumours are completely untrue. IBM is absolutely serious about the personal systems market. We are determined to invest to become number one in the desktop business."
IBM has developed a new "designer" range of products which will be launched in the UK in June as part of its Edge of Network (EoN) initiative. The products are designed to be "stylish and cool". They include an all-in-one PC with a flat screen, which will sell for under £1,500, and an Internet appliance which may be offered free to customers as part of a package from retailers or ISPs. A legacy-free PC (all communications are via USBs rather than serial ports) will also be available from June at under £500.
IBM's EoN strategy will be to build products that it sees the industry needing in the future. It is looking to high-speed broadband networks using both Bluetooth and ADSL. The role of desktop devices will change from general purpose to sitting at the edge of the network receiving data, optimised for a particular function.
"Computers will morph into a range of devices from smart cards to managing cars from the desktop PC," said Dave McAughtry, VP of marketing for the EoN initiative.
IBM expects to make a profit on its personal systems devices this time. "The money will be made in end-to-end solutions which include access to the network, data and portal management," said Billy O'Riordan, client systems brand manager.