Could the 1 300 jobs cut at IBM Global Services last week be the beginning of a much more sinister plan to axe up to 150 000 people from the US-based services division?
According to IDG columnist Robert X Cringely, IBM is about to undergo its biggest restucturing in years. The contentions he makes have been met with scepticism, but the lack of an official comment from IBM will help to keep the rumours flying.
According to Cringely (not his real name), last week's layoffs are the first in a project dubbed LEAN, which will continue to see small numbers of jobs cut from the 350 000-strong IBM Global Services workforce to reach the final total of about 150 000 by the end of this year.
He believes the strategy is to employ more engineers in India and China while reducing the more expensive US workforce. At the same time, LEAN would cut extraneous work in the US and move other work offshore.
Cringely writes that this programme would be completed by the end of 2007, at which time the US pension plan would also be frozen.