International Business Machines Corp. yesterday announced price cuts across its line of mainframe and intermediate-sized computers and introduced new work stations for the office in a bid to boost sluggish sales.
IBM President and Chief Executive Officer John F. Akers told an analysts' meeting in New York last week that, because of lower-than-projected sales of its large- and intermediate-model computers, the company no longer expects "solid growth" in earnings. IBM said earnings for the first nine months of the year would be lower than they were in the first three quarters of 1984.
The company said it cut prices for selected models of its 308X and 4381 mainframe computers by roughly 6 percent, while prices of intermediate machines such as the System 38 and System 36 were cut by amounts ranging from 9 to 23 percent.
An IBM spokeswoman asserted there was no link between the price cuts and IBM's disappointing sales levels for the machines. The mainframes' prices were cut partly because IBM will begin shipping its Sierra line of mainframe computers at the end of this year.
"The price decreases are clearly a stimulant to the near term," said Kidder, Peabody analyst William Easterbrook. "It may be just enough to kick some people over into buying" the high-end 308X mainframe.
"Announcements like this are because of industry conditions," he continued. "The big, successful companies like IBM use difficult times to cut prices and introduce new products to really put it to the smaller companies."
In addition to the price cuts, which also extend to selected printers and video display terminals, IBM introduced a new work station intended for smaller businesses and the department level of larger companies -- markets in which Wang Laboratories Inc. and Digital Equipment Corp. have been strong.
The company introduced a new System 36 machine that blends the intermediate-sized System 36 with an IBM Personal Computer. The system would allow users to run and share IBM PC and System 36 software for under $6,000.
The company also introduced more powerful versions of its popular "AT" 3270 work stations. In addition, IBM will offer color graphics capability for its 3179 terminal and three new high-speed modems that will enable IBM's computers to communicate better with each other over telephone lines.
IBM stressed that many of its new products are compatible with Rolm Corp.'s Computerized Branch Exchange switching system. IBM acquired Rolm, a telecommunications equipment company, earlier this year for $2.5 billion as part of its bid to merge computing power with communications.