December 6, 2004 by Allen George
It’s that time of year again. People start looking at the state of the computer industry, pick a big name and pair it up with Apple. The pick of the year? Good ol’ Big Blue.
The word on the street is that IBM’s about to sell its entire PC & Thinkpad line off to Lenovo – the largest Chinese computer maker out there. That’s been greeted with delight by the accountants out there and with general grumbling by the tech community. For those interested in hard numbers, IBM is a distant third in the PC industry outsold by both Dell and HP/Compaq. Their PCs are unremarkable and overpriced. For the amount of money outlaid, its profits if any are miniscule. From an accounting perspective, it makes perfect sense to place your assets and R&D dollars elsewhere. After all, IBM is becoming more of a service, processor R&D/fab & high-end machine house. For the techies out there, this sale signals the death knell for the Thinkpad line – arguably the best designed, most reliable and best serviced laptops on the market. No one’s quite sure where Lenovo will take the Thinkpads, but general feeling is “Nowhere good”.
On the other hand, I’ve been hearing fairly consistent rumors about this not being a sale but a joint venture. In other words, Lenovo and IBM would set up a separate entity that they’d jointly own. In my mind that may be more likely, sinve IBM would push very hard to using its hardware sales as a wedge for the more lucrative service business. It could be a loss leader…
Now the moment rumors of the sale started popping up, speculation on Apple & IBM’s ties started to emerge. Again. Most of it centers around the possibility that IBM would start hawking Apple’s wares having freed itself from its x86 desktops and laptops. Those who subscribe to this base it on two major facts.
- All Apple’s products are transitioning to IBM sourced processors
- Apple isn’t listed as an attendee at IBM’s Power conference in Beijing. What an odd move for a company whose entire lineup depends on Power cores. That can only mean that…yes…Apple and IBM are in bed together!
I…yeah…that’s foolishness. As much as I’d like to see some real competition on two fronts against Microsoft (Linux and Apple/Mac OS X) the chances of IBM putting its weight behind Apple are slim to none.