SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- IBM Corp. said Thursday that it will make $1 billion in financing available to small and medium businesses over the next 18 months to buy its new technologies for analytics and "cloud" computing systems.
IBM routinely loans money to customers to buy expensive mainframes and other computer hardware and software. It's not philanthropy. Revenue from its global financing division was $2.3 billion last year. The division is highly profitable, even though its revenue is lower than other business lines.
The Armonk, N.Y.-based company said that the latest effort is designed to help small and medium businesses "spur innovation and drive economic growth."
IBM said some packages will start at as low as 0.0 percent interest for 12 months with no money down.
IBM is the world's largest provider of technology services. It's also one of the biggest business software makers. The company is organized so that sales in one division can help generate leads for another: Acompany that buys a mainframe computer, for example, would be a target for sales pitches for additional technical support and software.
Such overlap is why IBM is one of the most heavily copied companies in technology right now. Archrival Hewlett-Packard Co. has announced that it, like IBM nearly a decade ago, is considering selling or spinning off its personal computer division to focus more on software and services.