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  1. Technology
October 11, 1995

MINIGRAMS

By CBR Staff Writer

Microsoft Corp has signed Software AG to make Microsoft Object Linking & Embedding available across most non-Microsoft operating systems.

The British Broadcasting Corp is demanding a prime position as the world moves towards digital television: responding to the UK government policy document on digital terrestrial television it says it should be allocated its own multiplex or frequency block that can carry three or more channels using the new technology; full control of the multiplex would enable it to provide uninterrupted coverage of big sporting occasions, parliament and artistic events such as concerts, and the facility could also make 24-hour news service possible.

Commenting on its figures (page seven), Iomega Corp says component shortages continued to limit production in the third quarter, but capacity expansion at Iomega, coupled with third-party manufacturing arrangements for its Zip drives and Zip disks, provided it with the production increases necessary to achieve substantial sales growth.

NexGen Inc says the first version of its 6X86 microprocessor is expected to be available at 180MHz.

Hopkinton, Massechusetts-based EMC Corp warns that preliminary third-quarter net profits were $71m or $0.31 per share, just up on the $69m or $0.30 per share in third quarter 1994, on turnover up 61% at $433m; both profit and turnover were hurt by pricing pressures from increased competition in the quarter: the company said the number of mainframe storage units shipped was up 29% on the third quarter last year and it expects sales of its Open Systems Group products to continue to accelerate and are on track to hit $200m for this year.

Beaverton, Oregon-based Sequent Computer Systems expects to report net profits of $7m to $9m, or $0.20 to $0.25 per share on turnover of about $133m for the third quarter ended September 30 after revising estimates downward two weeks ago: it is extremely disappointed at the results, attributing the shortfall to several large projects, most in North America, that failed to close in the third quarter; Sequent calls it a timing problem and says it is still on track for a normally strong fourth quarter.

IBM Corp’s GXT 1000 graphics accelerator will be made to work with PCI bus machines from next year.

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What’s behind the latest round of job losses at Unisys Corp? The sad thing about the company is that because it hasn’t grown in the decade since it was created, all the infrastructure is being spread over falling business, and turnover per employee is right down at $160,000, compared with $300,000 at IBM Corp.

Irvine, California-based Advanced Logic Research Inc said its subsidiary, ALR International Pte Ltd, has signed a distribution agreement with Vietnamese company Company For Development of New Products and Technology Ltd, also known as DPT Co Ltd, to establish a significant presence in Vietnam: the company said its Vietnam sales effort would initially focus on its multiprocessor systems and server technology; financial terms were undisclosed.

Caere Corp, Los Gatos, California, said it has agreed to buy ViewStar Corp, developer of workflow, document and image management software for about 3.44m of its common stock options, preferred stock and vested options of ViewStar, and it will assume roughly $4.5m of ViewStar debt: the companies expect the deal to close in last quarter 1995; on a combined basis, the companies would have generated turnover of $81.6m for 1994 and $35.3m for the six months that ended June 30, 1995.

The commune would be proud of it – IBM Corp is spending more than $100m buying components in China this year and spent more than $70m on components including plugs, chipboard, monitors, mice and other items in the first six months, Xinhua news agency said, making it the highest purchasing multi-national company in China: IBM apparently plans to increase purchases from China’s state-owned enterprises, as well as from foreign-funded ventures, and increase computer components sourced from

inland areas, the news agency said.

ParcPlace-Digitalk Inc, Sunnyvale, California-based object-oriented programming company, warns that it expects to report a loss per share of between $0.30 and $0.35 for the second quarter on turnover of between $10m and $10.5m excluding one-time costs of between $4m and $5m from the merger of ParcPlace Systems Inc and Digitalk Inc: the company also said ParcPlace founder Adele Goldberg was phasing out her day-to-day involvment but will remain chairman of the Board; the company will report on October 23.

Packard Bell Electronics Inc is now suing Compaq Computer Corp alleging unfair competition, defamation and violation of the Lanham Act, which outlaws false advertising because of Compaq’s allegations on its return policies in its advertisements.

Computer Associates International Inc confirmed it’s signed pacts with three government and government-affiliated organizations in China to use its software products: the Ministry of Communications which controls the construction of highways and waterways in China will use Unicenter systems management and OpenRoad tool for custom programs; China National Petroleum Corp responsible for managing China’s petroleum industry, has licensed OpenRoad and China Radio International, a joint venture with the government, will use OpenIngres database management software and Unicenter, the company confirmed.

ICL Plc is using the Ross Technology Inc HyperSparc to fulfill its Mbus requirements, but it and the other Fujitsu Ltd units are looking at UltraSparc for future systems, says the Sparc Technology Business.

Tucson, Arizona-based Artisoft Inc is shipping LANtastic Power Suite in French, Italian, German, Spanish and Dutch versions, and its LANtastic Dedicated Server 1.1 in French, Italian, German and Dutch versions.

German rules against Sunday – or even weekend – working are really strict, but if Europe is not to be swept into the dustbin of industrial history by the Far Eastern tigers, the dilettante ways that have become pervasive are going to have to give way to the serious work that has been the lot of mankind until this generation, and Robert Bosch GmbH has won dispensation to run a new chip plant efficiently: the $150m plant will operate round the clock seven days a week and be doing 15,000 parts a month by the middle of next year, Bosch said.

British Telecommunications Plc chairman Sir Iain Vallance and head of News Corp Pty Ltd Rupert Murdoch have not held talks on possible joint ventures on the UK’s information superhighway, the latter said – well, perhaps not, but you can be sure their minions have, and we quoted the company saying back in May that it intended to play a full part in the UK activities of the News Corp-MCI Communications Corp joint venture (CI No 2,662); and in August we quoted MCI confirming British Telecom had embarked on talks that could lead to the Brit taking a stake in the joint venture with News Corp (CI No 2,726).

This one doesn’t seem to have changed since June (CI No 2,693), although presumably it has been firmed up: Volt Information Sciences Inc has agreed to merge its Autologic Inc unit with Information International Inc, ending up with about 58% of the enlarged company.

Don’t read too much into those subscription figures bandied about by the on-line services: the Wall Street Journal points out that the claim by America Online Inc that its subscription base has passed 3.5m depends on it counting many thousands of people on free trials: it says that its average subscriber stays loyal for 41 months before lapsing – despite the fact that nearly 60% of subscribers have been on the netw ork nine months or less.

And Inteco Corp has come out with a study based on interviews with 10,000 on-line users that suggests that many people cynically sign up for one-month free trials without any intention of subscribing – based on research completed in August, more than 6.2m personal computer users have tried and cancelled subscriptions to

the leading services – America Online, Prodigy, CompuServe, Genie and Delphi, and that nearly 5.6m households were subscribing to at least one of the services in August, meaning that more people have cancelled subscriptions than were subscribing that month; if you add up all the subscribers claimed by the Big Three, it comes to some 9m people; Prodigy insists that it does not include free trial members in its subscriber base numbers – We don’t even count our members until they pay a bill the company asserted; CompuServe also said it does not count members until they are paying subscribers – but Inteco says that America Online does count trials.

Cray Research Inc has delivered a Cray J916 compact supercomputer and Cray’s UniChem client-server computational chemistry software package to Solvay Germany GmbH, which it said is the first European chemical customer that has ordered one of its supercomputers for computational chemistry; financial terms of the order were not disclosed.

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