When IBM uses the word "cheap" to describe the price range it is targeting for a new range of network and internet-attached personal devices, it has to represent a significant directional shift for the vendor's personal systems group (PSG).
Launching an initiative in the Asia-Pacific region which it has titled EoN (for Edge of the Network), John Callies, a US-based IBM vice president in systems, said the market is "evolving from personal computing to optimised computing" for a "simplified computing experience".
"We have spent a lot of time understanding the internet space," he said. "What people are after are simple, elegant, devices offering instant and secure access to the internet and IBM will be there.
"We are aiming for (EoN devices) to be cheap," Callies then added. "The first devices will be coming to market during the second quarter of 2000 and they are to be sold through new affiliations with ISPs, ASPs and telcos -- basically anyone who wants to sell hardware upon which their services will run."
Despite talking of distribution through "new channels", the globally focused Callies said traditional resellers will still be in the picture. However, he added that it will also be using "IBM direct-selling capabilities -- maybe fulfilled through business partners but the interaction would be with IBM".
The products will be customisable and will have reduced costs since only componentry needed to do the job will be supplied. As examples of how prices will be minimised, Callies explained how thin client devices don't need expensive processors and how network-attached devices that are connected and used for specific functions will only need one port.