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August 5, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

IBM UK will definitely not be following its US parent in demanding higher qualifications from its Personal Computer dealers who also want to carry the Personal System/2 family. Not that it would make much difference if it did – all the PS/2 models are still in very short supply. This is the conclusion drawn from a ring-round of key dealers spurred by a report from Keith Wharton Associates that dealers were complaining about the shortage. IBM UK admits it has many more orders for the incredibly successful PS/2 range than it is actually able to manufacture. It reports that staff at its Greenock plant in Scotland are working three shifts and overtime at weekends in an attempt to reduce the backlog of orders, particularly for the mainstream desktop 80286-based Model 50. Unfortunately, as dealers confirm, this frantic activity is having little effect. Combro, which has just agreed to be acquired by Micro Business Systems Plc, claims to have received only 86 of the 500 PS/2 50s it ordered for July, adding that it hasn’t seen a ProPrinter XL24 since the new family was launched in April of this year (CI No 655). It has been told by IBM that the situation will be cleared by October but doubts this, having past experience of conflicting allocations and delivery dates.


Another leading dealer, which did not want to be quoted, says that it is receiving only 20% to 25% of the 50s it requires, and confirmed the peripheral shortage when it said that the monochrome screen had been non-existent so far. It added that the Model 30 should be freely available within the week but it could take up to a month to provide the 60s in the amounts required. Personal Computers says it is getting 90% of the hard disk versions of the Model 30 it orders and reports improving supplies on the Model 60 front. In the US too, where a new production line has had to be set up in Raleigh, North Carolina, demand far outstrips supply. But IBM claims not to have underestimated demand, saying it announced back in April that there would be a phased introduction, and that it would ramp up production if necessary. Arch-rival Compaq Computer UK says supply problems could be down to the gradual phasing out of the AT and XT/286, leaving IBM short of both its tried and trusted products and its new PS/2 range. IBM declined to comment on how much longer the old 80286 boxes would remain in the catalogue, but said that the AT and the XT/286 are still freely available here. A major IBM dealer blames a design fault in the casing of the Model 50’s processor, claiming that early ones sagged when the monitor was placed on top. But that problem appears to have been cleared up in more recent supplies. The only company singing IBM’s praises was MBS, saying IBM had done its research well but got into problems because the range is so popular. Commenting on the fact that in the US, would-be PS/2 dealers are having to undergo training and are being held to very demanding volume commitments, Dave McAughtry, the man in charge of PS/2 availability in the UK, said that IBM is proud of its skilled dealer network in the UK, which it describes as giving outstandingly good service, and feels it is perfectly capable of handling the PS/2. He added that it expects to be out of constraint by the year end.

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