You gotta hand it to IBM

No matter how crappy their business is they can always find a chunk of fool’s gold in the pile of dogshit and then get someone in the media (or everyone in the media) to focus on that. Latest example was this story in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal about how IBM’s software division is just setting the world on fire. According to our spies at Fortune, IBM’s flacks have been shopping this story around since January. At last someone bit. Wow, software sales were up 14% in the last quarter and a galloping 7% for the full year, and now Steve Mills is the second coming of Gerstner. Never mind that the way IBM did this was to move some revenue that used to get recognized in other categories over into the “software” division. Never mind that IBM spent $4.8 billion acquiring companies last year, and most of that went to software shops. Never mind that IBM’s track record in software has been to buy up companies and ride them into the ground. Total assets at the end of 2006 are lower than at any time since 2002. Liabilities up, working capital down. Oh well. Who cares when that software division is setting the world on fire, baby?

Remember when the IBM story was the services division? Then that crapped out. Then they tried the “second coming of the mainframe” story. Then it was Linux. Then it was “business transformation outsourcing,” which our good pals at Fortune swallowed and said here was a $500 billion market, “an ocean of potential revenue” that IBM was going to tap into. They predicted IBM would top $100 billion in revenues by 2005. Ahem.

Well, now it’s software. Yup. That red-hot IBM software division. You know, someone ought to profile the one division that really is hot at IBM and which never gets any credit: the publicity department.