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IBM, NEC eye second-hand PC market

comptuer users
Local governments, schools and small- and mid-size businesses are boosting Japan's used-computer market 20% a year  

TOKYO, Japan -- IBM Japan and NEC Corp. plan to resell their own second-hand computers, according to reports.

The companies plan to tempt corporate customers to return used laptops. They will then sell them on to wholesalers and other companies.

The resale plan may have an environmental benefit. IBM Japan has applied for a license from Japan's Environment Ministry to collect and recycle used personal computers.

Most computer makers have resisted selling second-hand computers because they fear it will make customers stop buying new ones. They have ceded the second-hand business to retail stores.

Disposing of unwanted computers

That has left large companies to foot high bills for disposing of used computers. IBM and NEC now expect to take that cost on, reselling IBM and NEC computers, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported on Wednesday.

nec health care monitor
NEC makes health-care equipment as well as personal computers, and rivals Fujitsu for No. 1 spot in Japan PC sales  

Both makers plan to help companies simply dispose of unwanted computers, if they are not worth reselling.

The idea is to recover many computers, including other brands. But each company will only resell its own computers, and only with a three-month warranty.

IBM already collects around 15,000 computers worldwide, two-thirds of them in the United States.

Used computer market growing fast

"At least 10,000 of them are collected in the United States, some of them refurbished, some of them resold, some of them recycled," a spokesman told Reuters news agency.

The sluggish economy in Japan has been stimulating interest in refitted or upgraded used computers. The second-hand computer market is growing at around 20 percent a year.

The country is coming out of one of its worst recessions in half a century. The latest tankan report out of the Bank of Japan showed business confidence is mounting once again (full story).

Small- and mid-size companies have been big buyers of used computers. Schools and local governments have also proved ready to take them.

Around 60,000 computers a year

IBM aims to take in around 60,000 personal computers a year, the Nikkei stated, just under 10 percent of its total sales five years ago.

It will then on-sell only about 3000 of those PCs, gradually increasing that figure if demand is strong.

The computers will cost around 35,000 yen ($291). They originally cost 200,000 yen ($1664) five years ago.

Used IBM laptops would go for some 50,000 yen ($416), down from their original price of around 350,000 yen ($2912).

NEC, which has been shifting its computer production to China, hasn't outlined details of its plan. But it has targeted an NEC affiliate in the Gunma prefecture to sell the computers.

NEC said in May it is spinning off its chip business to focus on more-profitable lines (full story). It tussles with Fujitsu for top spot for personal-computer sales in Japan.




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