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February 1, 1989

AMDAHL LOOKS EXPOSED AS MEMOREX+NAS COMES CLOSE TO BEING FULL IBM HARDWARE SUPPLIER

By CBR Staff Writer

What would a merged Memorex Telex-National Advanced Systems product line mean to customers and competitors? The short answer is impossible to tell, because, when asked, the major companies involved either pretend that they haven’t thought that far ahead, or dismiss the entire matter as idle speculation. Luckily, the facts speak for themselves. When merged and lined up against IBM, the new company would be in a position to offer equivalents to IBM’s 3090 mainframes, 3380 disks, 3480 tapes, its standard printer range, and 3270 terminals. Chief omissions appear to be anything to match IBM’s 37XX communications processor, heavy duty printers and laser printers. The obligatory early days rider notwithstanding, Memorex UK sales manager Peter Butlin does concede that providing a total IBM-type solution is the obvious long-term goal of the proposed joint venture. He claims that the company has actively been looking for ways to plug the printer gap, but has no immediate plans to seek a front-end, 37XX-type offering. Our number one priority is getting our products in existing areas right, he added. Butlin also admits, however, that the front-end processor issue is bound to surface in the future. This could be good news for NCR Corp’s NCR-Comten in St Paul, Minnesota, believed to be the only other current player in 37XX-type market apart from Fujitsu. NCR UK was unwilling to comment on OEM deals, Memorex, NAS, or mergers, but did confirm that, despite a lack of any OEM arrangements in the US, it does have a marketing agreement with Alcatel Business Systems in Europe. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the whole affair, however, is the effect which a merged product line would have upon Amdahl Corp. The company’s UK marketing manager Don Smith appeared unruffled, insisting that, in Amdahl’s opinion, National Advanced remains primarily a supplier of Hitachi products, and that, consequently, there is no perceptible change in the number of players in the market. Similarly, attempts to gauge any long term Amdahl response, met with a frosty refusal to respond to pure speculation. The fact that Amdahl has nothing to offer in the way of tape drives, 3270 display terminals or printers, begins, however, to make the company look like a less than full line supplier.

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