IBM Corp claims its Unix workstation business is healthy which ever way Wall Street might care to interpret its numbers. Merill Lynch analysts were recently left with the impression sales of workstations and workgroup servers – some 25% of the $3.5bn RS/6000 business – were off about 15% in the first half of the year (CI No 3,147). IBM claims business in the high-end, high- margin mechanical CAD sector was actually up 20% year-on-year, and expects to reinforce a focus on specific industry solutions at the expense of under performing products. It’s similar to the experience of other workstation vendors given the emergence of Windows NT means the whole low-end Unix jig is up. Even if the Unix workstation market as a whole only grows by single digits going forward, IBM thinks a more selective focus on some markets will reinforce growth of the business as a whole. Over half its Unix workstations sales now are driven by Dassault SA’s Catia MCAD application. Although the number of models in the price book is being slashed from hundreds to tens we’re still waiting for that long-promised and seemingly forgotten renaming and re- branding of the line. It’s looking for the PowerPC G3 architecture, and the first implementation of the merged 64-bit Power/PowerPC instruction set called PowerPC 630 due next year to spur something of a recovery. It admits trailing Unix workstation market leaders Sun Microsystems Inc and Hewlett-Packard Co on 64- bit hardware, but claims performance leadership with the 160MHz Power2 Super Chip and a 64-bit AIX Unix. Further out it’s looking to the company’s Project 2000 microprocessor architecture development to drive business (CI No 2,970). The division’s looking for a new VP worldwide sales after Bob Dutowsky jumped ship for EMC Corp last week where he’s now EVP markets and channels.
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