Which PC makers took Intel's kickbacks?
By Barry Collins
Posted on 13 May 2009 at 11:53
Intel has today been fined over a billion euros after being found guilty of offering illegal rebates to PC manufacturers - but who were the PC companies prepared to accept Intel's cash?
The EC identifies five leading PC manufacturers: Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and NEC. None of the five have been found guilty of any offence.
The EU claims that four of those accepted substantial rebates on condition that they purchased all or almost all of their processors from Intel.
The EU doesn't reveal how much each PC manufacturer earned in rebates or the exact terms of the individual agreements, but a source close to the Commission leaked details to Reuters earlier this week that tally with statements made in the official EU ruling.
All Lenovo and Dell laptops had to use Intel chips to qualify for the rebates, while 95% of HP's business desktops had to be Intel-only, the source claimed.
NEC was told that no more than 20% of its desktop and laptops machines could have AMD chips.
The incentives for accepting Intel's money were huge. The EU cites a case where AMD offered one manufacturer a million free CPUs. "If the computer manufacturer had accepted all of these, it would have lost Intel's rebate on its many millions of remaining CPU purchases, and would have been worse off overall simply for having accepted this highly competitive offer," the EU claims.
"In the end, the computer manufacturer took only 160,000 CPUs for free."
Pay to delay
Intel also paid the PC manufacturers to delay the launch of AMD products. The EU claims an unnamed manufacturer received payments from Intel for postponing the launch of of its first AMD-based business desktop for six months.
Another was paid to delay the launch of an AMD laptop from September 2003 to January 2004.
The Commission says that many of these agreements were made informally and that it found proof of these deals in email correspondence, "even though they were not made explicit in Intel's contracts".
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