IBM'S BUTTERFLY ON A PIN
IBM HAS TARGETED ITS NIFTY Butterfly laptop for extinction. On the market barely a year, the ThinkPad 701C notebook PC is a hit, but executives feel it will soon be outmoded.
The computer solves the problem of cramped notebook keyboards. Although its screen is only 8.25 inches wide, the keyboard spans 11.5 inches. How? The board is in two halves, which can slide into the 4.5-pound ThinkPad's tiny body. The computer has racked up 27 design awards and sold 215,000 units, making it the top-selling notebook PC of 1995, according to market researcher International Data.
Poor Butterfly. It's doomed because the next generation of IBM lightweight PCs will sport screens wide enough to allow a regular keyboard. Code-named Kite, the new ultrathin model (one inch thick and weighing about one pound) is due out later this year. No wonder Big Blue is discounting the Butterfly heavily of late. It started in the $3,900 to $5,600 range. But with the latest cuts, it's now $1,499 to $2,999.
The elusive-wing keyboard isn't dead yet. IBM insiders say the company's engineers are tinkering with the keyboard for use in a handheld device such as a personal digital assistant.
EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT, WITH OLUWABUNMI SHABI BY IRA SAGER
Updated June 14, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1996, Bloomberg L.P.