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IBM Seeks Big Boost From Small PCs

It's banking on the ThinkCentre S50 to spark its desktop business at a time when many companies are looking to replace and upgrade their PCs.
IBM hopes its new "ultra small" PC will help revitalize its desktop business at a time when many business customers are looking to make significant upgrades.

"Our industry spends a lot of time on mobile and wireless, but to have excitement in the desktop market is a breath of fresh air," says Fran O'Sullivan, general manager of IBM's Personal Computing Division.

The ThinkCentre S50 is the smallest desktop PC ever introduced by IBM. At 13 pounds, it weighs about the same as the company's first notebook computer. The new system is 75% smaller than current desktops and 33% smaller than IBM's existing small-form-factor desktop.

According to Gartner research, as many as 100 million PCs are expected to be replaced this year, and 120 million next year. "Replacement purchases are driving worldwide PC shipments," O'Sullivan says. "There are a lot of aging PCs now set to go into the replacement cycle."

O'Sullivan says IBM has met with key corporate customers to discuss what they care about in new PC offerings. There are two basic camps, she says--those who want the highest-performance tower desktop available, and those who want full desktop functionality in the smallest form factor possible. "Office space is shrinking, but customers still want full function with a small real estate requirement," O'Sullivan says.

Purchasing decisions are increasingly being spread out throughout corporate organizations, she says, but one of the primary concerns remains total cost of ownership. At a starting price of less than $600, and with the ability to remove and replace an existing system in as little as five minutes, the new PCs will meet those requirements.

Part of the reason for the development of the new desktop system is IBM's recent decision to combine its desktop and mobile development teams, she says.

The ThinkCentre S50 is expected to be generally available in August.

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