IBM thinks midsize with printing, portables push

Big Blue adds new offerings to its "Express" portfolio of products and services for small and medium-size businesses.

IBM has expanded its push into the small and midsize business market with an array of new products designed to help companies improve employee productivity.

The products, announced Wednesday, include "Express" models of the ThinkPad notebooks, models X40, R50e and R51.

In addition, the company has three new printing offerings--Infoprint Express, Infoprint Express Package for enterprise resource planning, and Infoprint Express Package for iSeries servers. The company said the packages will help boost employee productivity through better management of print resources and printing processes. A set of education and training products also were added.

The offerings are part of IBM's Express initiative, which was launched last year to build products tailored for midsize companies. The effort, which includes hardware, software, services and financing plans, seems to be paying off. In the most recent quarter, IBM said its revenue from small and medium-size businesses grew 15 percent to $4.9 billion, while overall revenue grew 11 percent to $22.2 billion.

Last month, the company announced network management and disaster recovery services for small companies.

Other technology companies, including Hewlett-Packard, have introduced suites of products and services aimed at the midsize business market, as well. According to research firm IDC, there are about 100,000 such businesses in the United States.

The price of ThinkPad X40 Express models starts at $1,499, while ThinkPad R50e Express models start at $1,129. The ThinkPad R51 notebooks are priced at $1,199 onwards. In its Education Pack, IBM will offer a discount of 5 percent to 10 percent on three training courses.

CNET's Ed Frauenheim contributed to this report.

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