The report, issued quarterly by industry analysts, Workgroup Strategic Services, questioned respondents about the "brand equity" of various computer companies. Although more than 62 per cent of the respondents said IBM was a "strategic supplier" to their company, it dropped to fifth in the overall ranking, behind Dell, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard HP, and even Micron Electronics.
"IBM is absolutely not the primary player it used to be," said John Dunkle, president of Workgroup Strategic in the US.
Dunkle said the drop was primarily due to the progress competitors such as Dell and Micron had made. "It's not that IBM has done something wrong, it just hasn't played its strengths in the time its competitors have grown," he said. "To believe that Micron is becoming a strategic corporate product line would have been mind-boggling a year ago."
And while Compaq and HP have taken steps to strengthen their price/performance ratings, some of those moves, including moving to a build-to-order distribution method, have served to legitimise the direct vendors.
Price/performance has become more important to users, although the study reveals it is still behind reliability, service, and customer support, areas in which HP and IBM did well.
IBM continued to have success among large corporate accounts, but suffered in small- and medium-sized businesses. There, Compaq had a strong showing. "You've got small and medium-sized businesses saying Compaq is competitive on price performance, and I can get that brand name," Dunkle said.