IBM not allowing deferment in Asia

IBM Corp's deferred payment scheme, introduced in North America and parts of Latin America Friday, will not be extended to Asia-Pacific.

SINGAPORE--IBM Corp's deferred payment scheme, introduced in North America and parts of Latin America Friday, will not be extended to Asia-Pacific, a company official said.

A first for Big Blue, the 90-day deferred payment program involves selected services and runs through this quarter. It will allow customers to acquire servers, personal printing systems, storage networking and store systems products now and pay at a later date. The deal is open to purchases between $50,000 and $1 million.

"It's one of the many creative paths we're taking to help customers invest in IT today to remain competitive and help them create a solid e-business infrastructure," IBM Global Financing, Americas general manager Catherine E. Manion said in a statement.

Unfortunately, IBM's creativity will not be extended to this part of the world. Parath Samarth, IBM Singapore global financing manager confirmed that the program will not be introduced in the region, saying, ""While we are not rolling this out in Asia-Pacific, we do offer preferred rate financing on our products."

Samarth declined to elaborate.

IBM's decision was expected, analysts said. So far, across the region, the company has been targeting enterprise-level customers which could mostly afford its products and services, with not as much emphasis on the small- and medium-sized (SME) companies.

IBM may not want to formalize its billing processes as a result of its nascent presence in this market (SMEs)," said IDC Asia-Pacific analyst David Yew.

"It doesn't matter if such deferral schemes are six months or nine months," said Patrick Chua, an assistant manager with a Singapore-based logistics firm. "We're more interested in total cost of ownership."

Veronica Fong, Sheraton Towers Singapore spokesperson, felt that as a corporate customer, a deferral program like IBM's has little impact as attractive credit terms are usually provided by the vendor.

"Once we agree on shorter credit terms, the supplier is able then to give us a overall better price," Fong said.

Sun Microsystems is another vendor which has experience with such a scheme. Between September and December last year, the Sun EZplan was introduced to corporate clients in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and India.

The 180-day plan allowed customers to purchase its products including workgroup servers, appliances, workstations and storage.

"The program was rolled out to attract customers to hasten their decision buying process without the need to worry about initial capital investment for their IT needs. Customers can acquire IT equipment with a minimum down payment followed by no payment for the first six months," Sun Asia South Product Sales director Ng Kia Ching said via email.

While Ng claimed that Sun's program has generated awareness amongst customers and was generally well-received, it was discontinued as the company "runs different promotions and programs throughout the year."