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Monday, 9 July, 2001, 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
HP moves to metered computing
A selection of Hewlett-Packard servers
You don't have to be rich to afford an HP server
US technology firm Hewlett-Packard (HP) has introduced the first pay-as-you-go service for computers.

Under the company's new flexible pricing model, users of some of HP's high-end servers will be billed according to the actual computing power used during any given month.

The monthly invoices will combine a flat fee and a variable payment, a billing system HP compares to that typically used for mobile phones.

The firm conceded that the move was a response to the current weak outlook in the high-tech market, with companies generally reluctant to invest up-front in expensive server technology.

The service is aimed at those customers "who don't want to expand by betting on the future," said Nick van der Zweep, HP's marketing director for always-on internet services.

"A lot of customers are holding on to their dollars at the moment."

Meters made

HP has been providing pay-as-you-go services for three years, but always so far on a case-by-case basis.

Students using PCs
Computer sales have been weak recently

The new pricing model has demanded the installation of special metering technology, as previous pay-per-use deals were based on customers reporting their usage levels.

Initially, flexible pricing will be made available only in the United States, Britain, France, Germany, South Korea, Japan and Singapore.

It will also only apply to its high-end HP Superdome - for which prices start at $400,000 - and Intel IA-32-based servers.

But HP plans to roll flexible pricing out to more business areas and regions.

Mr van der Zweep said he envisaged that flexible pricing could even be applied to the company's software and storage services in the future.

The firm recently warned of a 2-4% fall in sales this year, and announced 3,000 job losses.

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