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IBM extends Aptiva retail ban to Europe

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IBM has taken steps to pull its Aptiva range of PCs from retail in EMEA to concentrate on Web sales. From January, retailers in EMEA will only be able to get IBM consumer products through distribution. The move follows Big Blue's announcement last week that it would stop putting the Aptiva consumer PCs on store shelves in the US from January. At the time, IBM said the decision would only hit the US. But sources at IBM today confirmed that the EMEA region would also be affected from the start of next year. The US vendor will also stop providing marketing support for retailers in EMEA. "Right now we do not have the right formula to make Aptiva successful in the retail channel in some geographies around the world," the company admitted. The only countries in EMEA in which IBM will continue to sell the PCs via retail will be Spain and Germany. No other country, including the UK, will be able to source consumer desktops and portables directly from IBM. The company said: "At a minimum, IBM will continue to offer ThinkPad i-Series via external channels, and retailers will be able to buy products from distributors." IBM also said it was "investigating" selling direct over the Web. "We will put this in place as each national market requires and will announce once we are ready." The moves are related to IBM's worldwide reorganisation to stem costs in its PC business. In 1998 its PC business lost around $1 billion, and in the first six months of this year it lost $239 million. ®

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