IBM Mulls Linux For Its PCs

Kolkata: | Updated: Dec 27 2002, 05:30am hrs
International Business Machines (IBM) may soon start packing its PCs with the open-source Linux operating system (OS). IBMs Linux initiative has so far been limited to its servers and workstations.

At present, IBM PCs, aimed mainly at the commercial segment, come pre-loaded with Microsofts Windows OS. The PCs come with two variants of Windows OS XP Home and XP Professional.

IBM officials were not ready to specify any time frame for loading the Linux OS, since the decision has to be taken on a global scale. But IBM, having seen the growing acceptability of Linux as a desktop OS in the Indian market, aims to leverage this opportunity.

IBM Indias personal computing division brand manager Ajay Mittal said IBM is looking for a Linux distributor in India.

IBM offers several models of notebook and desktop PCs certified to run versions of Linux. IBM is seeing Linux on client systems used in several areas. These include workstations for engineering and digital content creation applications, retail environments, call centre applications, and applications involving transactional work, such as order entry, he noted.

He said Linux deployment is also now becoming popular for general purpose desktop usage, with increasing availability and interoperability of applications. The popularity of Linux can be gauged from the fact that Hewlett-Packard is now selling Compaq Business PC loaded with Linux OS and AMD Athlon processor, at Rs 33,990. Many local brands are also offering Linux as an alternative OS to Windows.

According to market reports, last year IBM sold around 74,000 PCs compared with 2,03,000 PCs of Compaq and HP. This year, the merged entity of Compaq and HP has not reported the proportional gains for HP as expected.

A manager of Ingram Micro India Ltd, one of the national distributors of HP and IBM PCs, said IBM has been doing good business in the PC segment.

Sales figures for the first three quarters suggest that IBM is putting up a stiff fight in the commercial segment, he said.

The Ingram Micro manager said IBMs very focussed business (VFB) initiative targeting the small and medium business entities especially in the B and C class cities helped it sell more PCs than it did last year.

Mr Mittal of IBM confirmed this trend.

In the last three quarters we have sold around 63,000 units which is a 10 per cent growth on the 53,000 units sold in the same period of the last calendar year, he said.

IBM is likely to position its Linux PC in the SME segment, ending the Windows monopoly. IBM has to launch its Linux PC soon, or it may lose out to HP in the commercial segment. It is just a matter of time, the Ingram Micro official said.