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October 17, 1995

MINIGRAMS

By CBR Staff Writer

Doesn’t sound very likely, but one whisperer tells the PC Week gossip column that Steve Jobs could be on the way back to Apple Computer Inc – taking NeXT Computer Inc with him? – and that within the past two weeks, Apple chairmant Mike Markkula met Jobs to discuss the idea.

Reportedly because it could see no way to make the company competitive without a level of job cuts that would lead to a revolution, and because it doubted Belgium’s attractions as a business location, British Telecommunications Plc yesterday pulled out of its consortium with Bell Atlantic Corp to bid for a 25% stake in Belgacom NV; the doubtful prize will now go to the Telesource team of Koninklijke PTT Nederland NV, Swiss Telecom and Ameritech Corp – if it wants it.

Administrators from Casson Beckman & Partners were appointed at home computer and games distributor Prodis Plc, which has concessions in department stores and trades as SDL (UK) and Silica Systems: the ú44m a year business has some ú7.8m debts.

In his plans for a merged North West Water Plc-Norweb Plc, Sir Desmond Pitcher is harking back to his experience of two decades ago, when as plain Des Pitcher, he was a leading light at Sperry Univac UK Ltd (now part of Unisys Corp): if the proposed merger goes through, he not only wants to add regional telecommunications and gas services to the water and electricity, but to set up a computer services company, United Utilities, within the group, which would handle not only all the billing, payroll and administrative computing functions within the group but would also challenge the likes of Electronic Data Systems Corp in offering the same services for utilities in other regions and even unrelated businesses, the Mail on Sunday reports.

Samsung Electronics Co duly confirmed that its new $1,300m chip plant would be built in Austin, Texas.

Would have simplified any move by the authorities to split the company up… Microsoft Corp chief executive Bill Gates confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that his company had actively pursued a merger with Lotus Development Corp in 1983 and 1984, which would have placed all applications software development in Cambridge, Massachusetts and system software at the current Redmond, Washington base.

Microsoft Corp has announced a pilot programme starting immediately with a small group of resellers to sell and electronically download personal computer software to customers via the Internet, so that they can evaluate the viability of such Internet commerce: the pilot will involve both resellers that specialise in Internet selling and those wanting to start electronic sales, and each will provide its own security and transaction processing facilities; Microsoft products available for the pilot include Office for Windows95, consumer software titles such as Flight Simulator, and software-developer tools such as Visual C++; products will be sold to resellers at the fully packaged retail product price even though hard copy user documentation is not included; the pilot will run for the rest of the year.

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Markham, Ontario-based Legacy Storage Systems International Inc, the company that picked up a massive tape storage subsystem development, says it is in preliminary discussions to acquire certain assets of Rexon Inc, which filed for reorganisation under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code on September 13.

Electronic Associates Inc says its shareholders approved a company name change to EA Industries Inc.

L M Ericsson AB reports an order worth $42.2m for a cellular system from Libyan operator Orbit, including Groupe Special Mobile phones, exchanges, radio base stations, and a transmission network; Libya has had no mobile telephone system till now, and this is Ericsson’s first digital order in Northern Africa.

IBM Corp expects its personal computer sales in emerging markets, which it defines as China, South Asia, Africa, Russia and central Europe, South-east Asia and parts of Latin America, to grow by 80% in 1996 after growing some 60% this year to around 9m units, or 54% of the US market, against an overall market growth of 30% in emerging markets; IBM Singapore Pte Ltd said its personal computer sales in the Asia-Pacific region are expected to grow by 105%, up from 70% in 1994; in India, where IBM sells through Tata Information Systems Ltd it will enter the Indian small office-home office market by December with a specially designed new product.

Sanyo Electric Co Ltd will start marketing arcade games machines with 40 three-dimensional displays to Japanese amusement facilities operators from November 10: the new machine, based on Sanyo display and sensor technologies, offers a tarot fortune-telling game using three-dimensional images to detect a user’s movements using a sensor; the machine is priced at $38,700 and Sanyo plans to make 300 units in the first month of production.

Mclean, Virginia-based long-distance carrier LCI International Inc said it filed a formal complaint with the Department of Justice against Englewood, Colorado-based Baby Bell US West Inc alleging violations of Federal rules designed to protect competition in the US long-distance industry: it alleges an ongoing pattern of gross negligence in providing and maintaining access to US West’s local phone network, impairing its ability to compete in US West’s service territory and causing it loss of revenue; the complaint was prompted by a series of incidents in which US West’s negligence caused service interruptions and installation delays for LCI business and residential long-distance customers; the Englewood, Colorado phone company in effect said sorry, but we’ve been facing such demand that we’ve had problems keeping up with it.

IBM Corp said it expects information technology sales in Latin America’s booming economies to grow by 15% a year over the next five years from improving market penetration and greater economic growth, and estimates sales in the region will rise between two and three times faster than economic growth: solid rises are seen in sales in all areas, but with the greatest growth in sales to the financial sector and to governments IBM said; although sales in the region have increased three-fold in the last 10 years, investment in computer technology is less than a third of the level in developed countries, and IBM’s sales in Latin America account for just 5% of its global income; it said sales in Brazil had exploded, although Mexico had been slower than expected; the company said it expects a 50% growth in personal computer sales in Latin America this year alone.

Computer Associates International Inc made nice with China’s butchers of Tiananmen Square last week, as company founder and chairman Charles Wang chatted with Deng Pufang, son of senior leader Deng Xiaoping: both, it emerged, are the same age and were born in the year of the monkey – I’m a monkey, too, quipped Deng to Wang, according to the Associated Press; Wang was in Peking to donate 50 computers to two schools and the Islandia, New York The business software giant plans a Peking branch by year-end.

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