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MINIGRAMS

Dan Dorfman is at it again: he now reckons that Hewlett-Packard Co may buy Apple Computer Inc, but as Hewlett has not so far shown itself to be nuts, our response is oh no it won’t: having built up its Vectra personal computer franchise to the point where it is challenging for a top five market share place, does it really want the distraction of trying to work out a dual personal computer strategy? If it did buy Apple, it could be expected to move the Mac software base off PowerPC and onto the P7 chip it is working on with Intel Corp, so that all its main computer lines would use P7, and if you really want to work up a reason for Hewlett to buy Apple, you could hazard that the P7 effort was in such serious trouble that Hewlett is now planning to pin its future on PowerPC, but as today is not April 1, we don’t put that suggestion forward very seriously; and nor do others – I don’t believe it, David Wu of The Chicago Co told PC Week – HP doesn’t want to be assigned to a lunatic asylum.

Ryal Poppa, who has held the reins at Storage Technology Corp since January 1985, three months after the company filed for what turned out to be very protracted Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings – after which it staged perhaps the most successful comeback from bankruptcy of any computer company, is giving his aides plent of time to find a successor: he says he will retire as chairman, president and chief executive in January 1997; he has just celebrated his 62nd birthday.

Neotronics Technology Plc has announced an upgraded version of its olfactroy sensing equipment known as the Electronic Nose: the Nose consists of a series of sensors hooked up to neural networks that analyses vapours to detect differences in food, beverages and perfumes and the new e-NOSE 4000 has an automated analysis system with an array of individual conducting polymer sensors; it uses a static sampling system that more reliably records consistent results over a long period of time; Neotronics said that sales of its first generation noses continued to rise and amounted to ú300,000 for the financial year to September compared with ú92,000 in the first half; the company said that it had received ú75,000 of orders in October alone.

Mosaid Technologies Inc, Ottawa is to invest $1m for a 12% stake in Edge Semiconductor Inc, a San Diego designer and supplier of chips used in automatic test equipment.

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NexGen Inc, Milpitas, California has added floating point members to its Nx586 processor family – but the maths functions come on a separate chip mounted alongside the CPU on a chip carrier using IBM Corp’s flip chip packaging, where the chip looks like a spider that has been tipped over on its back and is trying to right itself: the Nx586-Pf100 executes add, subtract and multiply in two clock cycles against three clock cycles on the Pentium processor; the 100MHz version is sampling now with availability expected in December at $285 for 1,000-up and the Nx586-Pf120 is scheduled for first quarter l996.

The technology sector went into a tailspin in the US late Tuesday after Cirrus Logic Inc warned that its sales figures would be sharply below expectations because a major customer cut orders for its multimedia chips: the cut was traced to Intel Corp, and is thought to have been a knock-on from a reduction in orders for 75MHz Pentium motherboards that used the Cirrus chips, from Packard Bell Electronics Inc.

Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp says it will reduce the workforce at its parent company to 150,000 by the end of March 2001, from 195,000 as of the end of March 1995; it is also to cut domestic long-distance rates, in stages to 100 yen for three minutes by 2000 from the current 180 yen – 100 yen is a buck.

Computer Associates International Inc cut the entry-level price of its Unicenter client-server software about 43% to keep up with falling hardware prices and gain market share; putting pressure on IBM Corp, for the first time ever, it will reduce its prices on mainframe software, by from about 1% to 5%; pricing of some mainframe products will increase, but most mainframe product prices will be unchanged.

Cray Research Inc reports an order from Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp for a 32-processor Cray T90 supercomputer; terms weren’t given; it will be used new materials development and multimedia research into image processing technologies.

ECI Telecom Ltd is to supply access multiplexers to Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co in an order worth $55.2m, with bulk ships expected in 1996, and a limited quantity to be delivered in 1995: the multiplexers are to be deployed in a hybrid fibre-copper local loop.

Hewlett-Packard Co tied with Apple Computer Inc in this year’s personal J D Power & Associates personal computer customer satisfaction stakes, with 106 each – Hewlett because it scored so high on reliability and vendor reputation, two of the most heavily weighted categories, Apple because it scored well in seven of the 10 categories – but Dell Computer Corp was the only other manufacturer that came in above average: it scored 104, and the others – AST Research Inc, Compaq Computer Corp, Digital Equipment Corp, Gateway 2000 Inc and IBM Corp (which always seems to be below the line in this particular trial) scored below 100, in other words below average, although to spare any blushes, Power keeps actual scores below 100 to itself; the survey was conducted with 1,737 business users at their offices.

The Logica Inc unit of Logica Plc has won a key multimedia contract with the SNET Diversified Group arm of Southern New England Telecommunications Corp: it has been signed to a systems integration pact to create the phone company’s interactive television system, which will initially include a consumer-oriented video-on-demand service, with the potential for home shopping and banking services; Logica said it will provide the overall project management of a joint team performing vendor management, applications software development, systems integration and testing; the suppliers include Hewlett-Packard Co, Scientific-Atlanta Inc and Sybase Inc.

Motorola Inc has gone to Sunnyvale-based California Microwave Inc for digital microwave radios to interconnect links in a new Michigan public safety two-way radio system, California Microwave said: the system will be used by the Michigan State Police and other state and local agencies for law enforcement, emergency services and other applications; terms were not disclosed.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc is the victim of a securities class action filed by a shareholder against the company and some officers and directors asserting that it made false or misleading projections about the status of its K-5 microprocessor development efforts during an alleged class period beginning on April 11 and ending September 25 1995; the Sunnyvale company says the complaint is without merit and plans to defend itself vigorously.

IBM Corp has a new ThinkPad 365 series of notebook computers ranging in price from $2,000 to $3,100 and it is also cutting prices on its high-end ThinkPad 755 models by as much as $650: it said 16 of the 26 models in the 755 series now fall between $3,000 and $5,000, available directly from IBM, and the 365 series is aimed at price-sensitive mobile computer buyers but offers several high-end features; the series will include 10.4 colour screens, integrated CD-ROM drives, and what IBM said was hundreds of dollars worth of preloaded software; the notebook computers are powered by 75MHz 8048DX4 processors and come with 8Mb memory; IBM said it will soon integrate additional processors and features into the price category; the 365 series is immediately available from IBM and it will be available through retailers by the month-end.

France Telecom said it expected to turn a profit on its mobile telecommunications activities at the end of 1996 and have its first profitable year on the activities in 1997: it said 1995 losses will be much lower than the $164.6m loss of 1994, adding it was logical for an activity such as mobile telecommunications, which needs huge investments, to be loss-making in the first few years; France Telecom said it wanted to remain the biggest operator in France and a leading player in Europe, but it feels let down by its countrymen and wants a population worthy of it – according to Reuter, it complains that the French were slow to start using cellular services and were behind England and Germany; while it expects to have 700,000 subscribers at the end of 1995, it forecasts 8m mobile phones in France in the year 2,000 and 20m in 10 years.

El Segundo, California-based Merisel Inc said its third quarter revenues (CI No 2,788) received a $160m fillip from the August 24 launch of Microsoft Corp’s Windows95 and it did not expect the line to have a similar effect this quarter: despite that, the distributor made a net loss of $253,000 in the quarter, turnover rose to $1,540m from $1,230m, with the US and Europe seeing the strongest growth; gross profit margin fell to 5.8% in the quarter, from 6.8% last year, which was also a partial result of the Windows95 effect.

The NTT DoCoMo unit of Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp plans a trail at Tokyo’s Keio University of a system to link portable phones, including Personal Handy Phones, with computer networks: the trial will start this month and last for two weeks and students will be able to use the phones to access professors’ computers over the Internet; the trial will help pave the way for portable phone-computer linking services in the future, it said.
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CBR Staff Writer

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