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April 6, 1989

APRICOT COMPUTERS SEES BIG BUCKS IN SELLING UNIX SYSTEMS TO UK GOVERNMENT

By CBR Staff Writer

Apricot Computers Plc’s government division is celebrating three major orders over the last few months, and is gearing up to raise both the value and sophistication of its customers’ computer installations over the next year, according to the division’s director, Barry Kelley. Last November, Apricot won an UKP8m contract to supply personal computers, networking and Unix systems to the Department of Social Services over the next two years, and followed that in January with a UKP2.5m order from the National Audit Office (CI No 1,089), which has bought two of the Sequent-based VX9000 systems, Ethernet networking, and 300 Qi workstations for its headquarters, based in the old British Airways terminal building in London’s Victoria. The third order came from the Health Education Authority, which ordered a 115 user VX9000 system from Apricot system house Kestrelinfo Ltd for UKP343,000. Kelley maintains that the orders show that Apricot is now beginning to be taken seriously as a supplier of mid-range, departmental systems: it signed an OEM deal with Sequent at the end of 1987 (CI No 833), but has begun selling them only over the last six months, with 15 now out in the field. The Audit Office contract was won against bids from DEC and ICL, while the Social Security contract also had NCR and Bull HN chasing the business. According to Kelley, Apricot is actively bidding for further contracts from the Lord Chancellor’s Office and the Department of the Environment, all specifying open systems interconnection as mandatory: our OSI and Unix strategy is giving us a short-term advantage over companies such as DEC, said Kelley, who also hopes to gain further business from the Social Security Department by bidding top-end VX9000s at the expense of ICL mainframes. Apricot uses its 30% share of the UK public sector personal computer market as a lever for larger systems and networking installations, and hopes to do the same this year at the Ministry of Defence, where its micros are also widely used. The VX9000 will earn the company a substantial share of the defence sector’s massive new Unix market, says Kelley confidently.

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