Is IBM Quantum Computer Plan Anything More Than a New Piece in an Unsuccessful Turnaround?

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International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) has set a series of alliances to move into the cutting-edge quantum computing world. It announced a consortium of major companies to support its move forward. However, IBM has had a number of initiatives to transform the company, and so far investors and many analysts of the technology landscape have been unconvinced.

The IBM press release was long on excitement but a little short on detail about how the program and alliances would work. The company’s management said:

IBM today announced the first clients to tap into its IBM Q™ early-access commercial quantum computing systems to explore practical applications important to business and science. They include: JPMorgan Chase, Daimler AG, Samsung, JSR Corporation, Barclays, Hitachi Metals, Honda, Nagase, Keio University, Oak Ridge National Lab, Oxford University and University of Melbourne.

IBM Q is an “industry-first” plan to build quantum computing applications for a wide array of businesses and academic institutions.

Further into the announcement:

Organizations will work directly with IBM scientists, engineers and consultants to pioneer quantum computing for specific industries and have direct cloud-based access to IBM Q systems. Each of the IBM Q Network Partners below will explore a broad set of potential applications of quantum computing in their industry that could provide a quantum advantage – demonstrations of real-world problems that may be solved faster or more efficiently with a quantum computer than with a classical computer.

“Explore” and “potential” mean the plans are in their earliest stages and may not bear fruit.

IBM has repeatedly announced deals that are in early stages and rarely puts dollar signs next to them. That heightens the skepticism about its strategy to turn around a large tech company that has completely lost its way. So far this year, its shares are down 8% to $155. The S&P 500 is higher by 17% over the same period. The shares of rival Microsoft are higher by 37% in that time to $71.

If IBM wants to signal that it has changed course in a way that will help it restart revenue growth, investors may become attracted to the shares. Otherwise, press releases will not help.