With the might of Mitsubishi Electric Corp behind it, the new Apricot Computers Ltd is thinking big – its stated aim is to be the world’s number one supplier of networking hardware behind IBM. The game plan kicked off yesterday with the launch of the Apricot LANstation family. The family, built round the 80386SX chip, has five members. At the entry level price of UKP1,000 (plus UKP200 for 14 paper white monitor) is the LANstation 16, a diskless workstation, running at 16MHz with 1Mb of memory expandable to 8Mb, followed by the LANstation 20-0, also a diskless workstation but running at 20MHz and with the added features of on-board graphics and security. For the up-market customer there are three hard disk models (courtesy of Quantum Corp for the disks), all running at 20MHz, with 3.5 floppy drives, on-board graphics and security – the LANstation 20-1, the LANstation 20-50 with 50Mb cached hard disk and the UKP2,200-priced LANstation 20-100 with 100Mb cached hard disk. The family is positioned as a Compaq 386N-killer. In particular Apricot appears to see security as its strength in the networking market vis a vis Compaq. Apricot claims that it beats Compaq in the security arena because the Qi range features an infra-red security card, the ability to assign multiple user accounts to each machine, full block encryption, a full audit trail, a Systems Identification Number and screen blanking to stop unauthorised entry. LANstations will work in conjunction with MS-DOS and OS/2 host systems using Novell NetWare, Microsoft LAN Manager, Banyan Vines and DECnet PCSA, and as around half of Apricot’s VX server range are shipped running Unix, there are a range of terminal emulators for Unix, including support for X Window. A new version of VisionWare’s PC Connect will be bundled in for Unix users when shipments start in September. Apricot sees the LANstation as an ideal machine for X applications when they become available. The first are likely to be the Uniplex office automation suite and Santa Cruz Operation’s Open Desktop package. Apricot’s bullishness about this range has some crediblity because it now has Mitsubishi to back it up. While Apricot benefits by being able to use Mitsubishi components, its managing director Dr Peter Horne, says that at the end of the day, profitability is down to Apricot rather than Mitsubishi. Apricot will act as a worldwide product centre for Mitsubishi selling through 35 outlets across the world. It will complement Mitsubishi’s focus on notebook computers, laptops and portables, but all of the networking products it sells will be manufactured in the UK. The Apricot brand name will be used worldwide (including Japan) because it is a stronger name than Mitsubishi’s in the computer market the name may be used in conjunction with the Mitsubishi logo. Horne is adamant that the Apricot identity will not be lost as Apricot zooms to its projected five-fold growth over the next two to three years. Short term goals include launching the Apricot brand at Comdex in the US, then taking it to the Hanover Fair in Germany for the Continental launch. Meanwhile, the VX FTserver will be launched in Japan, where Compaq just arrived.