Apricot Computers Plc has formally announced Citydesk, its rival to the joint IBM UK and the International Stock Exchange’s Radix dealer workstation. As managing director Roger Foster promised last week at the company’s interims (CI No 810), Citydesk offers increased functionality over Radix at a lower price. A single Citydesk workstation comes in at between UKP5,000 and UKP8,000 against UKP12,000 to UKP17,000 for the IBM product. However, unlike Radix which has already been installed in half a dozen City institutions, Citydesk will not be available until February or March next year. Like Radix, the product enables users to look at, manipulate and combine data from the various news and financial services, such as Reuters, Telerate, Extel, and the Stock Exchange’s Topic and Computer Readable Services, on one screen. Where Radix is based on the 80286 IBM Personal System/2 Model 60, with separate 7552 Industrial Computers required as servers for each service feed, Citydesk uses 80386 Xen-i 386s with an 80386 communications server handling up to four feeds. The Apricot system can run on Token Ring, Ethernet and Omninet, the IBM only on Token Ring. The floor-standing Citydesk communications server has mirrored twin 100Mb disks to give a degree of fault-tolerance, 125Mb streaming tape and 10 expansion slots. Each workstation includes a phone management system, and phone, Microsoft Corp’s Excel spreadsheet, data transfer between applications and a hot key facility for switching between screens. It can also act as SEAQ Level III terminal for inputting prices to the Stock Exchange computer. Such is Apricot’s faith in the product that its Financial Systems subsidiary has set up a new division to handle sales. Financial Systems director Mike Wynn is looking for UKP7m in the fiscal year beginning next April while Roger Foster is predicting that Citydesk will do a minimum of UKP15m in 1989-90. Part of the optimism comes from a belief that the product can be sold as part of a full office package aimed at secretaries, administrators, accountants, investment managers and fund managers as well as to analysts, dealers and brokers. Apricot is also hoping that its prices will enable it to pick up business from increasingly cash conscious City institutions. IBM and the Stock Exchange will not be the only competition: at the Computers In The City show which opens at the Barbican today, at least two other firms will be launching similar products and at least two others are in the pipeline. Citydesk is written in MUMPS.
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