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July 8, 1990

MICROWRITER RUNS OUT OF CASH AGAIN, LOOKS FOR A POWERFUL PARTNER

By CBR Staff Writer

Mitcham, Surrey-based Microwriter Systems Plc, which manufactures the AgendA notebook computer, is looking for a partner because the company cannot compete on its own. Chairman Sir Mark Weinberg, head of the Allied Dunbar life assurance company, said that the company is now running at a loss, reported in the Daily Telegraph as UKP893,000. While Sir Mark declined to reveal financial figures, he said that tens of thousands of AgendA machines had been sold worldwide since the product launch last August. The machines have principally been sold through high street retailers such as Dixons and Rymans, although during the past four or five months, AgendA has also been sold through personal computer dealers. Psion Plc, a close competitor via its Mobile range, recently also reported it was in difficulties and issued a profits warning – but that was primarily down to modems (CI No 1,455). Sir Mark said the problem with the notebook market at the moment was that the Japanese companies Sharp and Casio have waded in with very strong and expensive advertising campaigns and are rumoured to be making a loss on every machine they sell. Sir Mark is not bitter about this, he simply wishes he could emulate their ability to invest capital in building up market share – this is why Microwriter wants a partner. He is looking for a personal computer manufacturer that can offer AgendA a distribution system plugged into thousands of dealers. A UK offer would be most welcome, but an international player might have more to offer. Aside from this partnership, Microwriter currently has a handshake agreement with a US distributor which is selling AgendA as part of a time management system. The two are now negotiating a formal joint venture.

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