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  1. Technology
September 22, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Apple Computer Inc is considering creating a version of its upcoming Pippin device, originally intended as a CD-ROM player, that would attach to television sets, to serve as a low-cost device for connecting to cyberspace, Michael Spindler told analysts at a meeting this week.

I think it was too large, too bureaucratic and too slow-moving to make the kind of strategic changes that the industry has demanded, said Richard Buchanan, president of the New Hampshire-based Buchanan Group – speed is everything these days; if you cannot change at the speed of light or at least as fast as your top competitors, you’re dead: sounds as if it is IBM Corp but in fact he is referring to AT&T Corp… but all the evidence still seems to support the view that John Akers was right to want to break IBM up and Lou Gerstner is wrong to try to hold it together.

Europe Online told Reuters yesterday that it had not notified the European Commission of its plans because its investor configuration was not final, but it expects to announce one or two new investors in about two weeks, with the Vebacom AG joint venture of Veba AG and Cable & Wireless Plc one of the names being canvassed; Pearson Plc and Matra-Hachette Multimedia SA are diluting their stakes with Matra’s interest falling to 5% or 6% from 15% now; it said the new investors were good strong European companies who are not publishers.

Tradepoint Financial Networks Plc’s Tradepoint Investment Exchange formally opened for UK share trading business at 8am yesterday and trading was active on the screen-based electronic share-trading system; it started life with 42 brokers and fund managers participating in its order-driven system, which currently offers a market for only the 400 most active stocks, including all of the FTSE 100 index constituents.

Nokia Oy launched what it claims is the smallest Groupe Speciale Mobile base station: the Nokia Prime Site is 25.6 high by 15 wide by 5.6 deep and can be installed on a wall or a pole and could save more than half the cost of a conventional base station site, the Finn said.

San Diego-based Audre Recognition Systems Inc has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but says underlying business operations will continue and customers will not be adversely affected; it does automatic document conversion software.

If MCI Communications Corp believes it needs SHL Systemhouse Inc if it is to become a well-rounded communications services company, does that mean that the first action by the planned new AT&T Corp will be to buy one of SHL’s big brothers, Electronic Data Systems Corp – soon to be spun off by General Motors Corp – or Computer Sciences Corp?

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The proposed acquisition by Seagate Technology Inc of Conner Peripherals Inc is given a vote of confidence by International Data Corp , which points out that Seagate’s skills in head design and manufacture will be married with Conner’s expertise in making platters, and that with more manufacturing capability in house, both companies will be better shielded from the shortages of parts plaguing the industry.

SGS-Thomson Microelectronics NV’s supervisory board authorised a public offering of the company’s shares to be completed next quarter: the final decision to go ahead will hinge on market conditions and other factors but the offering is likely to be for 18m shares, some new and some from its two parents.

Iridium Inc has withdrawn a proposed $300m offering of 10-year zero-coupon notes, Reuter heard yesterday: the sources said Iridium felt market conditions and terms were unattractive and funds for the project could come from its backers.

Shares in British Telecommunications Plc rose strongly yesterday as the prospect of separately-quoted network, retail and cellular divisions gained some appeal, although operationally the most attractive approach would be the one adopted by Bell Canada Inc, which reorganised itself as a holding company, BCE Inc, for both regulated and unregulated businesses: Bell

Canada became the regulated subsidiary of an unregulated BCE holding company.

Kalamazoo Computer Group Plc, the Birmingham-based, Quaker-originated computer company has appointed Robert Jordan as its new chairman as of October 1: current occupant Peter Harrop steps down due to other commitments, but stays on the board as a non-executive director.

Deerfield, Illinois-based VictorMaxx Technologies Inc says that it has now begun shipping its next generation CyberMaxx 2.0 helmet, a head-mounted virtual reality display, at a suggested price of $900.

That should keep the pestilential bureaucrats quiet for a few days, although if trade were truly free, it wouldn’t matter: is a CD-ROM drive a computer peripheral or a video-reproducing device? The question, says Reuter, is bedevilling the European Community, which has become embroiled in a controversy over how to classify for the drives for customs purposes – the peripheral carries an irksome 3.9% duty, the video device a punitive and indefensible 14% rate of duty; national customs organisations have been charging 3.9% duty but the Commission wants to charge 14%.

International law enforcers called yesterday for tight checks on the new Mondex rechargeable cash Smart Cards, which they said could enable drug barons and other criminals to launder their profits via the Internet: the call came at a meeting of the 26-nation Financial Action Task Force that was held in Paris.

Having tapped Intel Corp’s Pentium architect Vinod Dham, Nexgen Inc has now won Keith Diefendorff, chief strategist behind the PowerPC chip architecture at Motorola Inc: Diefendorff will serve as director of technical strategies of Nexgen, reporting to Dham; he served as the principal architect of the PowerPC in Austin and was a key member of the teams that negotiated the alliance of the trio in 1991 but is said to be disgruntled at the lack of market penetration of PowerPC.

Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG has tapped Moscow computer company SAM AG sell its Unix servers in Russia: SAM will assemble the RM200 and RM400 systems in Moscow and plans to establish a sales network covering the whole of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Correction: Sony Corp says that it is the maker of the Lithium ion batteries alleged to caused fires in Macintosh PowerBook 5300s, and adds that it believes the batteries are safe; a published report said another Japanese company made the offending batteries (CI No 2,752).

Hear the one about Frankfurt wanting to become the leading financial centre in Europe? The fact that it is a joke is made clear by a piece in the Wall Street Journal quoting the plaints of the beleaguered venture capitalists in Germany, who are having to take companies public on Nasdaq because the German banks lack interest in high-tech firms and the analytical muscle to support offerings, and refuse to take a company public unless it has several years of profitable operating behind it – if I go to them with a multimedia company, says Waldemar Nantz, managing partner of TVM Techno Venture Management GmbH, they will not know what I mean.

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