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Sun CEO and chairman Scott McNealy has come up with a novel way of flogging his low-end Sun Blade 1000 workstations.

Punters will be able to get the 600MHz machines, based on UltraSPARC III technology and launched today, only by bidding on auction Website eBay. And as a gimmick to kick off the offer, McNealy will personally sign the first five units sold - which will have a reserve price of $1, the company said.

The 600MHz workstations will only be available in the US at first, but Sun plans to stick them on UK and Australian auction sites if the scheme is successful.

Previous auctions have resulted in 45 per cent of sales from customers who had never bought from Sun before, the company claims. "With auctioning, you know what your products are worth because the market dictates the final price for each product," said McNealy.

"There is the potential for this to be a new channel for Sun," added John Shoemaker, exec VP of Sun system product group.

But Shoemaker admitted the move had spurned a few wrangles within the company. Despite claims that the auction was originally McNealy's idea, "We don't all agree on this internally right now," Shoemaker said.

Execs at the New York launch did not know today how many of the 600MHz machines would be poured onto eBay, and were also cagey about the value of one. The entry level Sun Blade with 750MHz apparently costs $999. ®

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