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November 7, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Deutsche Telekom AG and the DPG postal workers union yesterday agreed terms to allow the state-owned telecommunications carrier to cut thousands of jobs by the end of the decade: Telekom agreed not to resort to lay-offs until the end of 1997, extending an earlier agreement by one year, and in return, the union has given in on a key demand from Telekom and will now enable the company to force employees to move from their present job site to another if needed to fill positions elsewhere in the company; Telekom intends to shed 60,000 jobs by the year 2000, reducing the workforce to 170,000 employees.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc began sampling the Am5x86 microprocessor, and expects to begin shipping it in December: it says the chip is based on its enhanced Am486 microprocessor and runs at 133MHz, outperforming Intel Corp’s 75MHz Pentium in industry-standard benchmark tests – Winstone 95, CPUmark16, CPUmark32 – which it says show the Am5x86 providing up to 9% better performance.

Hitachi Ltd, which has not hitherto sold personal computers in the US or Europe plans to establish Hitachi PC Corp in San Jose, capitalised at $20m, to design, develop, market, sell and service advanced notebooks and systems in North America; it plans to unveil a line of notebook products in the spring.

IBM Canada Ltd has succeeded in forcing Amdahl Corp to pay more than it wanted for DMR Group Inc – it will not be extending its bid.

MCI Communications Corp has won a commitment from Microsoft Corp to provide direct access to networkMCI conferencing services in future versions of Windows: Microsoft will work with MCI to develop and deliver enhanced software to enable Windows users to register, reserve and use networkMCI conferencing services for multipoint audio, video and document conferences, and avoid having to place a call to make reservations and initiate conferences.

Autodesk Inc warns that it expects third quarter results to be disappointing, with earnings likely to be in the range of $0.37 to $0.39 per share for the quarter to October 31: Autodesk customers are faced with a transition in our product line as well as a significant technology shift in operating environments as many move from MS-DOS and Windows to either Windows NT or Win95, it said, and the two trends hurt Autodesk in the third period.

Xerox Corp has filled a hole it its printer line with an OEM agreement with Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG and has launched a production printer family with speeds of up to 420 pages per minute for continuous-feed paper and high-speed, single-sheet production laser printers for direct printing on the IBM Corp Intelligent Print Data Stream: the DocuPrint 377 CF continuous feed and 420 CFT; Xerox said US list prices for base configurations of the DocuPrint IPS printers are $157,570 to $232,500 for highlight colour, and $65,000 to $418,700 for monochrome models.

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Finnish mobile phones group Nokia Oy said its Enhanced Full Rate voice coder-decoder has been chosen by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute as the standard for the digital mobile phones industry: the EFR codec is a coding algorithm that facilitates conversion of analogue speech into a digital data stream that can be modulated for transmission over the radio channel, which Nokia said is a major leap in digital voice quality; the US market also chose Nokia’s EFR codec, which is compatible with existing infrastructure, as the industry standard for PCS 1900.

Having lost on its patent infringement suit against the company, Creative Technology Ltd is now the one crowing because the Singapore High Court has ruled that Aztech Systems Pte Ltd infringed copyright in its SoundBlaster Developer Kit Manual.

The ambitious and hungry Cambridge, Massachusetts mass market software company SoftKey International Inc yesterday began soliciting proxies from shareholders of The Learning Co, in which it tries to persuade them to vote against the Broderbund Software Inc bid at its special shareholders meeting on November

NEC Technologies Inc’s US entry into the Pentium Pro stakes is the PowerMate Pro150 PC Workstation for Windows NT: featuring Matrox Graphics Inc’s MGA Millenium 64-bit graphics accelerator with accelerated True Color, video and three-dimensional performance at resolutions up to 1,600 by 1,200, it supports up 8Mb of fast, dual-ported Window RAM, it costs $4,900 with 150MHz 16Mb Pentium Pro, 1.6Mb EIDE hard disk, 1.44Mb floppy, Adaptec Fast Wide SCSI, 6x CD-ROM reader, Creative Technology Ltd AWE 32 sound board, speakers, microphone, IrDA infra-red interface and Windows NT.

Will Japanese consumer electronics manufacturers come to dominate at least the multimedia home computer end of the personal computer market as the whole world coalesces around Windows95 on iAPX-86 chips? That is the question raised by the Wall Street Journal, which goes further, pointing out that even servers use commodity hardware now, but surely if the Japanese were going to dominate the market, wouldn’t they have done so by now – after all, it would not be for want of trying, and conditions, notably the need to site plants abroad to escape Japanese costs, mean that conditions are much less favourable now than they were five and 10 years ago; the Sony Corp or Hitachi Ltd logos on home computers are not going to cut much ice with first time home computer buyers who do not associate those names with computers, and the scope to cut costs and improve quality are almost non-existent now every manufacturer knows the cost and reliability of every component down to the last cent and minute.

Hopkinton, Massachusetts-based EMC Corp has won new OEM agreements worth some $250m in 1996 with Hewlett-Packard Co and AT&T Corp’s Global Information Systems unit $160m is from the reseller pact with Hewlett-Packard and the balance the OEM deal in which AT&T will re-market EMC’s Symmetrix system, which is worth $300m to EMC over the next three years; EMC said it hopes that this will increase its presence in the server market.

London-based City of London Telecommunications Ltd has changed its name to COLT Telecommunications Ltd, as it now intends to expand within the UK and also onto the continent.

Intel Corp and all the iAPX-86 clone-makers apart from Cyrix Corp have now moved on to a RISC core and disassemble iAPX-86 instructions into RISC instructions – but their assertion that the RISC instructions are not really suitable for software developers to write to (CI No 2,784) is clearly specious, and what they really mean is that they don’t want to be locked in to carrying those specific RISC instructions forward to their next generation: seems a mistake to keep the things under wraps, and it would make more sense to give the full documentation to software developers that really wanted it, but tagged every page with health and wealth warnings – and the likes of Advanced Micro Devices Inc could then team up with writers of specific applications and persuade them to write in such a way that the application checks whether the Advanced Micro RISC instruction set is present and uses it if it is, otherwise sticking to the iAPX-86 set; the two could then promote the software as running much faster on an Am686 than on a Pentium Pro.

Denver, Colorado-based US West Inc said it expects 100 new institutions will be interested in holding shares in the newly created US West Media Group shares: the media shares began formal trading on Thursday on a when-issued basis; about 430 institutions hold US West stock now and the company said it hopes to attract institutions that buy cable and cellular stock, previously put off because its stock was high dividend but slow growth.

Ing C Olivetti & Co SpA has set up a new division for policy and strategy on telecommunications; it will be responsible for monitoring the sector and co-ordinating initiatives from the various parts of the group, particularly on regulatory aspects and relations with the Italian and European authorities.

GM Hughes Electronics Corp’s DirecTV Inc unit in Los Angeles, California reports that its one millionth subscriber has gone live after slightly more than one year of operation: the company delivers up to 175 channels of programming to subscribers, who receive it on 18 satellite dishes; DirecTV said it confirms users’ appetite for a digital alternative to traditional methods of programming delivery.

Rochester, New Hampshire-based Cabletron Systems Inc has signed SoftBank Corp to resell its network products, intelligent hubs, switches and network management products in Japan via its 1,000 network distributors: Cabletron said analysts expect the Japanese market for internetworking products to grow by over 30% by 1998; Softbank’s distributors will initially sell the intelligent hubs, fibre optic transceivers and converters.

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