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  1. Technology
November 16, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Figures, doesn’t it – at the beginning of the year, NetWare still looked to have the network operating system business sewn up, and Novell Inc looked like a really valuable property: now all the dreams have fallen apart, and the company looks to be well past its sell-buy date, IBM Corp is said to be interested in buying it – with AT&T Corp as a rival in love, but both say they would want it only after Wordperfect has been sold on.

IBM Corp will be telling its resellers this week that it plans to end all direct sales of personal computers – apparently even its sacrosanct sales to large accounts, and will hand it all over to third parties, along with the support side, Computer Reseller News reported.

Sprint Corp expects $550m to $650m charges to be taken in the current quarter to change its accounting method will result in a net loss for the period; it is also taking an after-tax charge of $45m to $55m to provide redundancy benefits for employees as part of a realignment.

IBM Corp says it is considering shifting some of its labour-intensive paperwork-type activities to low-wage countries, said Tony Reis, its vice-president for Europe, Middle East and Africa: he was speaking at the opening of IBM Romania; Reis declined to give details but said such thinking was part of IBM’s plan to centralise some of its own operations, drawing activities like finance back to central sites rather than having national units doing it all themselves – We cannot afford this anymore with the globalisation of the network.

The European Commission may ask European Community governments to create a telecommunications regulatory body when they consider treaty reforms next year, a Commission official declared yesterday: it believes a central agency is needed to manage issues such as numbering and the allocation of frequencies.

BICC Plc yesterday announced plans for a far-reaching restructuring of its cables businesses, and said it was in talks with interested parties to sell its UK housebuilding unit: the cables move, to be completed in the first half of 1996, would lead to rationalisation and closure provisions of ú80m in 1995.

Telecom Finland Oy said that it is planning to bid for a 49% stake in the Czech digital cellular franchise, bidding with a local partner.

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Escom AG? Vobis Mikrocomputer AG? Peacock AG? We’re talking to a German company that sells personal computers about building Mac clones for them – We’re ready to go but we have to prove we can manufacture them, Power Computing Corp told Reuters at Comdex; the latest Mac OS licensee taking Power Computing machines OEM is Umax Group Ltd, Taiwanese computer peripherals and software company; Umax has rights to sell Apple clones only in Taiwan and mainland China.

This is deja vu all over again, Kimball Brown, analyst at Dataquest Inc told Reuter as Apple Computer Inc, IBM Corp and Motorola Inc said that now the thing was ready, the Common Hardware Reference Platform, or CHRP, will henceforward be known as the PowerPC Platform, adding I mean, it’s pathetic.

IBM Corp’s Ozzie Osborne has now made it clear that the terminal computer referred to by Lou Gerstner (CI No 2,793) has nothing to do with the $500 Internet terminals proselytised by Oracle Corp and Sun Microsystems Inc: he said he did not necessarily consider the machines themselves low-cost, noting that many computers already are available in a similar price range – What I’m talking about is the cost of computing, the total cost of computing from a customer’s perspective, Reuter quotes him as saying – I have not said it’s cheap; asked about Louis Gerstner’s reference to a possible computer in a shoe, Osborne said, IBM works on a lot of emerging technologies.

Hughes Electronics Corp has signed a letter of intent to buy Itek Optical Systems from Litton Industries Inc: the Lexington, Massachusetts unit makes precision optics and electro-optical systems for various governments, and generated revenues of $50.9m in the year to July 31; financial terms were not given but Hughes told Reuter a quarter of Itek’s 270 staff would be laid off.

AT&T Corp, in the throes of an act of meiosis to split itself into three, says it will offer redundancy packages to more than half its 151,400 managers worldwide in a move that may cost about $226m.

Hong Kong Telecommunications Ltd launched a FrameLink Frame Relay service, enabling customers to interconnect sites via very high bandwidth links at a fraction of the cost of high capacity leased lines.

Apple Computer Inc says it has settled that ridiculous lawsuit brought by Carl Sagan amicably, but did not disclose terms: Sagan had sued Apple in federal district court in Los Angeles, objecting to the use of his name as a code word during development of the Power Macintosh 7100, and to publicity surrounding the dispute, Apple said, adding that the Federal court decided in favour of Apple, and Sagan appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; Apple praised Sagan as a contributor to higher learning and said it never intended to embarrass Sagan or his family; unconfirmed reports said at the time that when Sagan first complained, Apple changed the code name to Butt-Head Astronomer.

Caere Corp has paid $2.4m to acquire a 20% stake in privately held ZyLAB Corp: Caere specialises in optical character recognition products and desktop management systems and said that the acquisition of ZyLAB will enhance its indexing and retrieval software; both companies will collobarate on software development and marketing.

Maxi Switch Inc, Tucson, Arizona keyboards maker is to buy Lexmark International Inc’s manufacturing rights, patents and assets for its Select-Ease and Rubber Dome keyboards, including its patented Buckling Spring technology: the Select-Ease, launched in 1994, is a full-function keyboard that splits into left and right halves, so the user can adjust the height and angle of either side, and even separate the two sides if desired.

Netscape Communications Corp must be setting as many records as Compaq Computer Corp did in its early days, and it must now surely be setting a record for the shortest time between flotation and a company splitting its shares: it is proposing a two-for-one split, which at current prices would bring the price back down to the low 50s where it traded briefly after flotation before taking off for the stratosphere again; it will for approval at a special meeting on January 23; demand for the shares so far exceeds supply that Netscape has asked Morgan Stanley & Co and Hambrecht & Quist LLC to release up to 1m shares held by non-officer employees from the lock-up pacts each employee signed prior to the company’s initial public offering.

You get really enthused when you happen upon a fold in cyberspace tagged the Wintel joke site, only to become disillusioned when you find that the very best are If at first you don’t succeed, work for Microsoft; and Windows: Just another pane in the glass; or The difference between a virus and Windows? Viruses never fail.

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