Big Blue shrinks ThinkCentre to ultra-small form factor

IBM doesn’t want you to see too much of its computers.

The company released early details Wednesday on the ThinkCentre S50, the smallest desktop PC produced by Big Blue to date.

“”We are now talking about excitement in

the desktop,”” Fran O’Sullivan, general manager of IBM’s Personal Computing Division said in a conference.

The ThinkCentre S50 is 75 per cent smaller than IBM’s current desktop and 33 per cent smaller than its existing small form factor.

“”They wanted power, they want to have a lot of expandability, high power, high performance, high upgrade ability . . . they want full desktop functions, but they want it in the smallest form factor possible”” O’Sullivan said.

Decreasing office space allocation and the need for more power and expandability are the two factors that are driving the need for the new generation of desktop.

“”There is certainly a move towards smaller PCs,”” said James Heal, technical director for Bolen Distributing, a computer reseller in London, Ont. “”Ironically as we need more space to deal with thermals, the consumers are looking for smaller.””

And O’Sullivan was quick to point out that the reduced form factor will not compromise the system as a full-function desktop.

“”We have not made compromises, it has an integrated power supply, it has PCI thought for expandability and of couse it comes with IBM think design with some neat serviceability features and our ThinkVantage technologies, which help our customers save on total cost of ownership, provide a more secure solution , and help our customers make their end-users more productive.””

IBM insists that the physical durability of the form factor will not be compromised by its small size.

“”We are going out and committing to our customers that not only is our new ultra small form factor small, it will support up to a 22-inch CRT, so it is also strong”” O’Sullivan said.

IBM’s drive to ultra-small PCs comes in anticipation of growing demand for replacement PCs, with the company forecasting a turnaround of 220 million PCs in the next two years.

The company anticipates that 70 percent of those new PCs will be desktops.

However that advantage in desktops may gradually erode as the gains in sales of notebooks continue to outpace desktops.

“”This year over last, I think you are looking at a 15 percent gain in notebook sales, whereas you are looking at roughly three or four per cent gain in desktop sales”” said Heal . “”So they are outpacing desktops in growth, certainly not in saturation yet, but that day will come.””

Sales of the ThinkCentre will begin later this summer with the price starting at $1699.00 (CDN).

An animated illustration of the ThinkCentre S50 is available at

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