A proliferation of third party maintenance companies over the past five years in both the US and Europe has started nibbling away at IBM’s highly profitable maintenance business. Not only have existing independents been growing fast and new ones created, but in the US, many rival manufacturers – NCR, Control Data, Honeywell Bull, Xerox – have been seeking to increase the efficiency and performance of their maintenance operations by seeking contracts to maintain other manufacturers’ equipment. In face of this growing threat, IBM is moving to improve the service it offers its customers in ways that will be expensive for the competition to emulate, and is also changing the rules so that maintanance will be more expensive for customers who share their favours between IBM and third parties than it will be for those who remain true to Big Blue. The new rules take effect from December 1 in the US and Canada, and are expected to follow in Europe in the first half of next year, modified where necessary to take account of local laws. Details of the changes are in p2.
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