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Big Blue chins channel with direct sales plan

Web site and telesales will now sell direct to customers

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IBM started selling a whole host of PCs and notebooks direct through its Web site and by phone in the UK yesterday. Included in the line-up was Big Blue's ThinkPad 240 notebook for £1099, which was launched in September. Desktop PCs are included in the new line up, priced from £649. As revealed here last month, IBM is also offering its Aptiva consumer PCs direct in the UK. It is selling these as PC and printer bundles from £839. The company has also cut prices across all product sectors to customers ordering before 30 November, prompting speculation that IBM is sitting on a mountain of unsold stock this quarter which it is now desperate to shift. The offer includes giving a free £350 WorkPad C3 with every ThinkPad 600, a carry case with notebooks, and PC bundles. "It is aimed at consumers and very small businesses," the IBM representative said. "We are not going to change our channel initiative at all. This is an additional channel to market." After the initial offers end at the end of November, IBM said it would base its direct selling prices on the average reseller price. It also claimed the move was "a reaction to customer demand" and in "no way a reaction to Dell". But Big Blue and its vendor rivals continue to play catch up to direct seller Dell as it continues to steal market share. IBM refused to say if yesterday's announcement was a precursor to selling its entire range of kit direct. "At the moment, it's just the products outlined", the representative said. In April, IBM US announced it would sell its entire product range over the Internet in the US. ®

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