Two of the world's IT heavyweights have reported worse than expected financial results, but both remain bullish about prospects for 2002. The news will be welcomed by resellers, which have been hard hit during 2001.
Microsoft and IBM reported a drop in revenues during the last quarter. The former would have wanted to proclaim record sales of its new Windows XP operating system which it reports has shifted 17 million units. But a £462m ($660m) charge for lawsuits taken against the company has hit earnings.
Meanwhile, Big Blue saw revenues hit across nearly all of its business groups. But despite the tough end to 2001, both companies predicted an upturn in fortunes in 2002, and resellers have been quick to agree.
"We saw customers delay purchase decisions in late 2001," said Martin Prescott, managing director of Microsoft reseller Big Red Computers. "These firms are now ready to commit."
Speaking about IBM's results, chairman Lou Gerstner commented that tough economic conditions had forced customers to re-evaluate their IT spending, and to look increasingly for fully integrated technology.
His comments were supported by Robert Huntly, head of marketing at IBM storage specialists Source Consulting. "There is increasing emphasis on getting more value from storage," he said.
While Microsoft resellers will welcome the apparent success of XP, some have raised doubts.
"I don't know where they get their figures from. Customers want something tried and tested, and we are still seeing strong demand for Windows 98," said Prescott. Doubts about XP's compatibility with some programs, and a reluctance to migrate to a new operating system, were stifling sales, he added.
Microsoft reported that second-quarter earnings per share would be between £1.10 ($1.57) and £1.12 ($1.60), compared with Wall Street estimates of £1.13 ($1.61) to (£1.16) $1.66.
IBM's fourth-quarter earnings were 93p ($1.33) per share, down from £1.04 ($1.48) a year ago.
IBM and Technical University of Munich team demonstrate how Shor's algorithm, which can't be cracked by conventional computers, can be solved quickly with quantum computing
Hubble Space Telescope finds superflares from young red dwarfs could strip away planetary atmosphere
Younger stars are 100 to 1,000 times more energetic than when they're older
Two of the big four supermarkets will use the system to control sales of restricted products
PUBG news and updates: November's Update #23 to bring new Skorpion pistol and changes to blue zone visibility
Genuinely useful side-arm coming to PUBG in Update #23