... And Even Cheaper P Cs May Be On The Way

Last June, when ambitious marketers at IBM Europe decided to import Asian-made PCs in an effort to fight back against cheaper competitors, U. S. colleagues downplayed the strategy. After all, the new line, called Ambra, ran contrary to traditional IBM practices: Ambras are sold by an IBM subsidiary under a non-IBM label, and by means of new methods, such as telephone sales.

But after a slow start, the Ambra business has become so promising that it may soon be copied by IBM's U. S. operations. Ambra Chief Giuseppe Giuliani says he's on track to sell more than 170,000 Ambras this year, about 2% of the European market. And even though they generally sell for about 20% less than IBM's cheapest ValuePoints, Ambras have not cannibalized other IBM lines. IBM's U. S. operations are evaluating an Ambra-type line and studying how to address the very low-end PC market, says an IBM spokesman.