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November 14, 1995

MINIGRAMS

By CBR Staff Writer

Apple Computer Inc says it swept past Compaq Computer Corp to become the number one seller of personal computers in the US by number in the third quarter with over 13%, according to the new market share figures released by both Dataquest Inc and International Data Corp; Compaq Computer Corp and Packard Bell Electronics Inc vied for second place Dataquest going for Compaq, IDC for Packard Bell; IBM Corp was fourth and Hewlett-Packard Co achieved its objective and made it to the top five for the first time.

IBM Corp is close to making an offer for the whole of Novell Inc rather than just the Wordperfect Corp business that is already on the block, US PC Week hears: indeed some observers reckon that it does not want the applications and will wait until Wordperfect has been sold before it moves in on Novell; sources told the paper a senior vice-president at IBM told associates that the company’s board of directors has given its unofficial approval to proceed with a deal.

AT&T Corp has put its Network Notes service on international local call access in 32 countries, saving the cost of international calls; charges outside the US are $3,500 a month for network management services, plus $39 per terminal; additional hourly charges are $19 from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, $25 from Asia-Pacific countries, $12 from Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Digital Equipment Corp has hired Ilene Lang from Lotus Development Corp to fill the new post of vice-president of the company’s Connectivity Software Business Unit: she was formerly senior vice-president of the Lotus Desktop Business Group and for the past year led worldwide development and marketing of the Lotus SmartSuite product line.

The German government is considering issuing at least one more mobile telephone licence and industry observers said the most likely candidates were RWE AG and Viag AG.

Santa Clara, California-based Coherent Inc has signed an agreement to purchase the assets of the laser optics division of the ATx Telecom Systems unit of Amoco Corp’s Amoco Technology Co: although the acquisition is not expected to have immediate impact on Coherent’s revenues or earnings, it does have important strategic value to the company, it said; terms of the acquisition agreement have not been disclosed.

Camelot Corp has chosen Alternative Investment Market-quoted Firecrest Group Plc, Bond Street, London to be its exclusive distributor for DigiPhone and DigiPhone Deluxe in the UK: Firecrest is paying $1.95m in shares – 10% of the enlarged equity, for the distribution right.

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Escom AG took 5.4% of the European personal computer market in the third quarter, up from 3.9% this time last year – shooting it to third place from seventh, according to Dataquest Inc; the company credits its assualt on the UK market, but the gain did not come without cost – first half sales jumped 32% to the equivalent of about $812m, but it lost $2.8m in the period; the company still forecasts profit for the full year and for 1996; Compaq Computer Corp remained the market leader, but with 13.1%, down from 14.1%, IBM Corp was second with 9.5%, down from 9.9%, and Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG was fourth with 5.1%, up from 3.8%; unit shipments rose 24.1% to 3.08m.

Amazing how few people seem worried at the prospect, but Uncle Sam will be in good sleazy company if he does default this week: Venezuelan phone company CANTV has defaulted on a $3.965m interest payment on its foreign debt, a source close to the part state-owned firm said.

Mountain View, California-based SunSoft Inc said Telos Corp was awarded the Small Multi-user Contract-II by the US Army which includes SunSoft’s Solaris on Intel Corp Workgroup Servers and associated SunSoft middleware: the three-year $900m-plus SMC-II contract will provide a network infrastructure for the US Department of Defense and Federal civilian agencies worldwide, said the Sun Microsystems Inc subsidiary; Telos says that some 6,000 of the total servers delivered will be Pentium-based machines running Solaris.

Acer Inc reported October turnover more than doubled and hit a record monthly high of $268.6m, up from $125.7m a year ago, thanks to brisk sales in desktop personal computers: the previous record was $234.4m in September; turnover for the first 10 months this year was $1,751m, a soaring 85% up on the $946.2m in the same period last year and exceeding Acer’s forecast of $1,635m for the entire 1995; the company reported net profit of $129.5m for the first three quarters this year, or $0.15 per share.

One of the silliest arguments entered against the concept of the Internet terminal is that many people today could buy personal computers for less than $1,000 but instead by $2,000 systems and upgrade them with all sorts of multimedia add-ons: the prime market for the Internet terminal is not the converted, most of whom have the kind of communication personal computer they want already, but the vast army of people that are still green about computers but feel they can’t afford to ignore the Internet – but are not prepared to spend $2,500 until they know they are going to feel at home in cyberspace.

The Wall Street Journal has been doing its sums and has discovered that just as heavenly bodies occasionally come into dramatic alignment with each other, market capitalisations of IBM Corp, Microsoft Corp and Intel Corp have come together at their current share prices, and they are respectively valued at $57,700m, $58,700m and $59,700m.

What do they mean? Oracle Corp says it and Compaq Computer Corp have demonstrated the first parallel database server technology running on industry-standard platforms, but when you get down to it, the machine was a Compaq Proliant Server Array consisting of four four-Pentium Pro-processor servers managed by UnixWare Cluster Management System running Oracle7 Parallel Server, which sounds as industry-standard as a Volkswagen with a Rolls Royce Merlin engine in it.

Hitachi Ltd has signed a two-year agreement worth more than $2m with the University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA, to jointly research potential applications of the emerging Digital Video Disk technology focusing on exploiting the large storage capacity of the discs for applications such as education and entertainment, and exploring multimedia opportunities provided by the use of multiple, parallel tracks to access information, Hitachi said; it said the use of Digital Video Disks, which contain 10 times as much data as an ordinary CD-ROM, needs development of new authoring and search and retrieval tools.

Paris, France-based Ilog SA is shipping Views 2.2, its C++ library and graphical user interface builder, priced at from ú7,500 on Unix or ú5,000 on Windows personal computers; it will be available in the US in January next year, Ilog said.

The Panda Project Inc, Boca Raton, Florida hopes to save the whole chip-making and chip-using world loads of money and make loads more money for itself with its new VSPA chip package: it says it has now produced a functional VSPA package housing for the Pentium, and that this Pentium in the VSPA chip carrier are currently operating in Panda’s Archistrat 4s Server and will be previewed at Comdex/Fall; Panda says VSPA is estimated to cost 50% less than competing packages, and occupies 87% less space than the current Pentium package, while enabling continued use of existing circuit board assembly equipment; it also reckons that the price of microprocessor chip packages has been rising steadily over the past five years and estimates that it now accounts for more than 30% of the overall chip cost; the package is claimed to reduce board area by 3.2 times, volume by 6.6 times, and the size of heat sinks by a similar magnitude; it uses a metal plate for die attachment and says that its thermal conductivity is six to 20 times better than the ceramics that are currently used.

AirTouch Communications Inc said it expects to boost its international cellular phone market penetration to 20% to 25% by the year 2000 from its current rate of 1% and added that domestic penetration should also rise to reach 25% to 30% from its current 10%: AirTouch expects to continue its international expansion, into Poland, the Czech Republic and Brazil in 1996 and said by first quarter of 1996, international cellular subscribers will surpass the number of domestic subscribers; it currently has about 635,000 international cellular subscribers out of a total of 2.55m worldwide; AirTouch saw some pressure on its domestic business in the third quarter, but said it was back on track; it said the domestic cellular operations will have a new national brand name, to be announced in December, to create one brand identity for the cellular operations for the wireless alliance of AirTouch, Bell Atlantic, Nynex Corp and US West Inc; AirTouch declined to comment on earnings projections, but analysts see its fourth quarter earnings of $0.05 per share, up from $0.01 last year and earnings for 1995 are seen at $0.28 a share, up from $0.20.

Motorola Inc said ComunicacionesCelulares SA awarded its Pan American Wireless Infrastructure Division a $20m contract to expand the cellular system in Guatemala City and surrounding areas: Motorola originally installed an AMPS Advanced Mobile Phone Service system for Comcel in 1990 and in the last year alone subscriber capacity has more than doubled; it will begin system expansion this month and when completed in mid-1996, subscriber capacity should nearly double again.

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