Page 2

By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2004-12-03 Print this article Print

In fact, IBM should have gotten out of the PC industry a long time ago. Its been years since the company made memory, hard drives and Token Ring cards—why did they stick it out with PCs? According to ex-CEO Lou Gerstner, its been "painful and costly for IBM." But he truly believes that the company could have competed. As he said in his 2002 memoirs, "If we had focused on the marketplace and done our homework, theres no reason the IBM PC business today would be looking up the leaderboard at Dell." Well that time has passed. The corporate desktop looks a lot like a terminal, circa 1985. Interchangeable parts are defined more by what they connect to rather than whats inside. In other words, its the services they run that are far more important—and theyll run just as well on a Dell.
Most of the PC excitement is happening at home, where Dell, Gateway, HP and others are jockeying for a piece of the media server market. From where I sit, those legacy PC vendors have already lost. Those devices will look a lot more like TiVo or iPod than your standard PC. But IBM hasnt been credible at home since its failed PC JR, so thats no great loss.
What other top PC manufacturers will be gone in 2007? Read David Courseys predictions here. So what will happen to IBMs computer division? If I bought it, Id immediately slash the desktop line and focus on notebooks. Id continue to drive quality—IBM still makes the best portables in the industry. Id look very carefully at WinBook. The scrappy direct notebook vendor sold over a billion dollars worth of mostly well-regarded portables last year. WinBooks parent, Micro Electronics, also owns the off- and online retailer Micro Center, which sells a wide array of computing hardware and software. And thats who I think will pony up the bucks for IBMs computer division. Sure, Chinas Lenovo group is a good alternative. But I think a domestic reseller of technology will ultimately win out. CompUSA, MicroWarehouse, Tiger Direct and other PC retailers now realize they need a house brand along with reselling products from others. My prediction: ThinkPad becomes a Best Buy brand division within a year. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.

With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel