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IBM Builds A Better Water Filter

IBM on Thursday announced that it has developed new filtration technology that could increase the amount of usable water on the planet.

Currently, only about 2% of the world's water supply is drinkable, but IBM's breakthrough could help change that. The technology employs a membrane through which water is forced to remove toxins, salts, and other impurities.

IBM developed the system in cooperation with Central Glass of Japan, the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, and the University of Texas at Austin.

IBM is also introducing new water management services under an initiative called Project SmartBay. The company is piloting the program in Ireland's Galway Bay, where electronic sensors have been deployed to track the interactions between, pollution, marine life, and sea states.

Services are becoming increasingly important to IBM's top and bottom lines as the company in recent years has spun off low-margin hardware businesses such as PC and printer manufacturing. Services and consulting now account for about half of IBM's total revenue.

Steady revenue from services engagements is helping IBM weather the downturn better than most tech vendors. For the fourth quarter, IBM said sales fell 6.4% year over year to $27 billion, while earnings per share rose 17% to $3.28 and net income jumped 12% to $4.43 billion.

For the full year 2008, IBM said revenue increased 4.9% compared with the previous year to $103.6 billion and that EPS rose 24.4% to $8.93. Net income for the year climbed 18.4% to $12.3 billion, IBM said.