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October 13, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

As anticipated, Apricot Computers Ltd, the personal computer business of Mitsubishi Electric Corp, has launched its assualt on the home consumer market with a range of 37 models, which also includes machines aimed at the corporate and small business markets (CI No 2,723). The home consumer range, called the MS series, will be on sale in Dixons Plc’s 300 high street stores by November 1, the company promised. All the ranges will be launched in the UK initially by November, and in other European markets at the start of next year. There are no plans to launch them in the US or Japan, said Chris Buckham, Apricot’s marketing director. Birmingham-based Apricot is an unusual beast. Although it is owned by Mitsubishi, all its desktop machines are manufactured in Glenrothes, Scotland, and the Japanese parent maintains the Western-style name in its domestic market. Managing director Peter Horne claimed the company had the largest research and development department of any UK computer company. However, Buckham insisted that Apricot was also a fully-fledged marketing company. The MS540 range starts with a 75MHz Pentium model with 8Mb RAM and a 840Mb hard disk for ú1,400 rising to a 133MHz Pentium with 16Mb RAM, and a 1.2Gb hard disk for ú2,300. All the MS machines are Pentium-based and all come with a Sony Corp quad-speed CD-ROM drive, a Creative Technology Ltd SoundBlaster board and 20 Watt external speakers as standard. They also come with Microsoft Corp’s Windows95, Novell Inc’s WordPerfect HomeWorks, IBM Corp’s Lotus Organiser and a range of games and education software pre-installed. Dixon’s employees will be on incentives to sell Apricot, IBM and Compaq Computer Corp machines above its other brands. The LS550 series is Apricot’s pitch for the corporate market, with a more sober box design and without the multimedia add-ons, starting with a 75MHz Pentium model with 8Mb RAM, 640Mb disk and 100Mbps Ethernet board from 3Com Corp for ú1,420. Apricot’s existing XEN-PC and LS Pro desktop ranges are intended to fit into the LS series. For what Apricot dubs the cost-conscious business customer it is offering the VS550 desktop and VS660 mini-tower ranges. The VS550 starts at ú1,350 and the VS660 ú1,399 with very similar specifications as the LS550s. Both the LS and VS machines come with Windows95. The business machines will still be sold through Apricot’s usual channels, rather than Dixons.

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