IBM Sells Pentium Model for Desktop Use
NEW YORK (AP) _ IBM on Monday began selling its first desktop personal computer run by a Pentium chip, the latest and most powerful microprocessor from Intel Corp.
The chip is being offered in new models in IBM’s ValuePoint brand line, starting at a price of $4,700. Intel began making the chip in March but most computer companies, including IBM, have limited its use to more expensive computers called ″servers″ that ship data around a network of PCs.
″Intel is building up Pentium chip inventory and now is the time to put a product out and gain a market advantage,″ said Jose Garcia, chief developer of ValuePoint models in Boca Raton, Fla.
The machines come with 424 megabyte or 527 megabyte hard drives and several expansion slots and bays for additional features. Monitors are sold separately.
Other PC makers are also preparing to begin selling desktop computers with Pentium chips. Such models are not expected to come down to the $1,000 to $2,000 price range now common on most desktops for some time, however.
For that to happen, Intel will have to reach full production on the chip. The company has said production will reach a few hundred thousand chips by the end of this year and several million in 1994.
With its allotment of Pentium chips, IBM expects sell to several tens of thousands of the new ValuePoint models by the end of the year, said W.S. Osborne, general manager of the brand line.
The heart of ValuePoint’s product line, models based on Intel’s 486 chip in varied configurations, was introduced in the spring. The company in late July began selling some versions with fewer features for as low as $900.
With the Pentium models designed to appeal to people who want a very powerful machine, Osborne said, ″I think we’ve filled in the total spectrum of our customer base right now.″
The ValuePoint brand turns a year old this week and has sold more than 1 million units during that time, rivaling IBM’s flagship PS-2 brand, which is sold chiefly through the company’s giant sales force to large companies and government agencies.
ValuePoint has a broader market aim, selling machines at lower prices to companies and individuals through IBM’s sales force, wholesalers, computer stores and even a direct toll-free phone line.
Osborne said the first buyers of Pentium machines will likely be people who need a lot of computing power for desktop publishing, animated design and software development.
″The individual who would need Pentium on the desktop matches the target ValuePoint is designed to address: small or medium businesses, sophisticated individuals,″ said Jon Hulak, industry analyst at BIS Strategic Decisions in Norwell, Mass.
The development of Pentium-based desktop PCs has been troubled by a glitch in chips that work with Pentium to control the flow of data. Some PC makers have delayed their product introductions because of the problem.
Garcia said IBM has coped with the problem and would have no trouble delivering systems. ″We have a product that is stable,″ he said.
The company also rolled out some new 486-based configurations in the ValuePoint line, including multimedia and energy-efficient models.