Microsoft Corp’s Japanese unit says sales of the Japanese language version of Windows95 totalled 200,000 copies in the first four days of marketing after the November 23 launch – and the figure does not include those shipped by NEC Corp preloaded on personal computers.
Hutchinson Technology Inc, Hutchinson, Minnesota plans to spend an estimated $80m over three to four years to build and equip a 320,000 square foot photoetching plant in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, with $30m to be spent in fiscal 1996: the plant will adjoin the 156,000 square foot assembly plant it is also building.
PC Quote Inc, Chicago and Corel Corp, Toronto have jointly developed an Internet service, Stock Mania, to be distributed on CD-ROM to retailers and catalogue companies worldwide by Corel as part of its Internet Mania product: the $25 disk is expected to be available in stores next week; with it, users can access up to five share quotes on a 20-minute delay free on the Internet from Windows95’s tool bar.
The deal under which Northern Telecom Ltd is building a new Nortel Virtual Reality Applications business in Dallas around Superscape VR Plc’s software (CI No 2,804) gives the Hook, Hampshire company’s product the crucial credibility it needs: as a result of the deal, described only as a multi-million dollar agreement, Nortel Virtual Reality Applications, will focus initially on providing interactive training programs based on Superscape software to users of its systems, but later plans to do applications for outside organisations.
Analysts get the most unbelievable jollies, and Vodafone Group Plc put on ninepence at 232.5 pence yesterday as word filtered back from an analysts’ visit to overseas operations: the trip covered the Greek operations on Wednesday, moved on to Hong Kong yesterday, and from there on to idyllic Fiji, Australia and South Africal; Panafon SA in Greece, where Vodafone holds 45%, is expected to float before 1998.
Pixar Animation Studios Inc has done the business for Steve Jobs – its initial public offering made him a paper billionaire for the first time, with his stake valued at $1,200m at the $39 a share first day close – more than his Apple Computer Inc shares were ever worth while he was there – and that for a firm bought for an estimated $10m, but he has invested at least $50m.
US Commerce Secretary Ron Brown announced in Belfast yesterday that the CableTel subsidiary of International CableTel Inc will invest $920m to develop a digital information highway in Northern Ireland – but the news ain’t new, because it follows CableTel winning the franchise for Ulster earlier this year; the company plans to build and operate a fibre optic network to provide telecommunications and multi-channel television service, and it should create 800 jobs during its eight-year construction.
Workers at the Colfontaine plant of Alcatel Bell SA, the Belgian unit of Alcatel NV, voted to end a six-week strike and return next week.
Underlining how frighteningly fast the market is moving these days, if you had gone away for a couple of weeks, you would have completely missed out on the sudden perception that the Internet’s World Wide Web poses a serious threat to Microsoft Corp’s hegemony in the medium term: we ran a piece – The reason so many people are betting Netscape really is worth $100 a share (it’s now around $140) – outlining the case (CI No 2,793), it is the cover story in this week’s BusinessWeek, and on Tuesday, the London Evening Standard, which typically would get around to a story like that three months after the industry started discussing it, ran a double-page spread on the subject – all of which explains why Packard Bell Electronics Inc called the Christmas home computer market so wrong – Packard Bell was the one that tried to get a jump on its rivals by announcing its Christmas collection in July, remember (CI No 2,704)?
Lockheed Martin Corp’s IMS unit and Hewlett-Packard Co have formed a strategic initiative to pursue opportunities within the US Federal health care industry: the two will offer services to design, integrate and support computer hardware, software and networking products.
It had to happen and everyone was waiting for the first product to grab the name: General Instrument Corp has launched a high speed cable television modem to enable personal computer users to get broadband, on-line or Internet service: it uses a telephone line if a back channel is required, and is compatible with existing cable television systems, cellular television and satellite – and the name of the thing? Surfboard of course.
As you were – Pixar Animation Studios Inc created its own cluster of 117 Sun Microsystems Inc Sparcstation 20 workstations – 87 duals and 30 four-processor models, to handle the rendering of each of the 114,000 frames in the 77-minute Toy Story movie from Walt Disney Co (CI No 2,804): Sun says it worked with a team from Pixar to create its RenderFarm, which serves as Pixar’s central processing resource, which uses an eight-processor Sparcserver 1000 in the role of a texture server that supplies the data to the rendering client workstations; Pixar now plans to develop a parallelised version of RenderMan to exploit Sparc and Solaris multiprocessing multithreaded architecture.
A Chinese Long March 2E rocket carrying the AsiaSat-2 communications satellite successfully lifted off from the launch site in southwestern China, and entered low earth orbit, Asia Satellite Telecommunications Ltd in Hong Kong said: the $200m AsiaSat-2 is the first commercial satellite sent up from China’s main launch centre in Xichang, Sichuan Province, since an Apstar satellite exploded aboard a Long March 2E rocket in January (CI No 2,601); AsiaSat-2, a Lockheed Martin 7000-series, carries the Asian expansion ambitions of Star TV, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp; Associated Press’s television arm APTV, Portugal-based Marconi Global Communications, Worldwide Television News, Hong Kong Telecommunications Ltd, Germany’s Deutsche Welle, Pacific Century Group and Malaysia’s TIME Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, owned by Malaysian conglomerate Renong Group, also booked transponders; AsiaSat is equally owned by Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, China International Trust & Investment Corp and Cable & Wireless Plc; the successful launch meant a quick fall in launch insurance premiums.
Malta’s state-owned TeleMalta Corp has formed a joint venture with the Bianchi Group, TerraCom Ltd and Megabyte Ltd, called Terranet, which aims to become the leading Internet service provider in the Mediterranean and North Africa: TeleMalta has a 25% stake, TerraCom 40%, Bianchi 20% and Megabyte 15%.
Cable & Wireless Plc’s Cable & Wireless Marine says it has won a $29.6m deal to lay a 1,500-mile under-sea fibre-optic network that will form part of Brazil’s backbone telecommunications infrastructure: Brazilian carrier Embratel Ltda will own the cable, which will run from Rio de Janiero in the south to Fortaleza in the north, where it will connect to submarine cable systems that already provide links to Europe and Central and North America; installation is to be completed by the late summer of 1996.
Some of the OEM customers that told us they had been expecting a little more direction from the partners may be interested to know that Motorola Inc now says there is no roadmap planned for PowerPC over and above what little it disclosed at Comdex earlier in the month.
H&R Block Inc, Kansas City, Minnesotta, the US tax preparation company and owner of on-line service CompuServe Inc, reporting a second-quarter loss of $8.3m on turnover of $223.9m, up from losses of $1.2m a year ago (CI No 2,804), said the loss widened because of increased spending on marketing for CompuServe: CompuServe’s second quarter turnover rose 38% over last year’s quarter, to a record $188.4m; Block said it is consciously foregoing short-term gains at CompuServe in exchange for long term growth and profitability; the company said because of tax-business seasonality, its second-quarter r
esults are not indicative of the expected results for the entire fiscal year.
Franco-Italian chipmaker SGS-Thomson Microelectronics NV foresees rapid expansion of its business in the Asia-Pacific region, up to 25% of its business from 18% in 1990: it said sales in the region, excluding Japan, would exceed $900m this year, against $200m five years ago; SGS-Thomson will open a fourth wafer fabrication plant in Singapore early next year at an initial cost of $35m, which it says will boost its Singapore production capacity to 32,000 wafers a week from 26,000; it has also opened a regional logistic centre, adding to existing centres in France and another one to be opened in the US.
Singapore Telecom Ltd will launch its fourth mobile phone network on December 1 using equipment supplied by Northern Telecom Ltd: the $50m digital network, with an initial capacity of 160,000 lines, will enable subscribers to use their phones in Malaysia and Thailand from early next year and phones will be usable in some other countries in the future; Telecom’s existing Groupe Speciale Mobile phone network enables subscribers to use their mobile phones in 17 different countries; it said mobile phone use is still growing at 30% a year and it needed more capacity.