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  1. Technology
December 5, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

There’s no better way to earn the respect of Americans than to become a billionaire, so Steve Jobs will be listened to with greatly enhanced respect following the highly successful flotation of his Pixar Animation Studios Inc – and that in turn should lead to a reassessment of the concept of the $500 Internet access terminal: Jobs confirmed to the Financial Times that he gave Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp the idea for the Internet terminal.

IBM Corp is adjusting its research and development budget to reflect its network commitment, and the Server Group, Networking Hardware unit, IBM Personal Computer Co and services unit are all working on strategies to accelerate the introduction of network-centric products, and it is also forming a co-ordination team from across the entire company to make sure all its units are working together, sharing ideas and resources as quickly as possible; 25% of the research division’s 1996 budget will now be devoted to network-centric computing.

Ing C Olivetti & Co SpA workers went on strike on Friday to protest restructuring plans at the firm: about 4,000 strikers marched outside the company headquarters in Ivrea, shouting slogans against the chairman Carlo De Benedetti; the mayor and the archbishop of Ivrea irresponsibly joined the march.

Cisco Systems Inc may be poised to acquire Cascade Communications Corp for $1.00 to $1.10 per share, BusinessWeek magazine reported, but Westford, Massachusetts-based Cascade popped up to say that while it had recently held preliminary discussions with another company regarding a possible business combination, those discussions are ended; it adds that in light of the rapid evolution of the data communications market, it is constantly evaluating the possibility of strategic alliances or combinations with other companies, and may at any time, or from time to time, engage in discussions with other companies – including the company with which preliminary discussions were recently terminated, on such an alliance or combination; Cascade claims to be the price-performance market leader in Frame Relay equipment.

Apple Computer Inc unveiled Apple QuickTime Live!, a virtual venue for live interactive on-line entertainment: the software and Web site is designed to enable people to view live events over the Internet; the system requires QuickTime VR.

LG Electronics USA Inc, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey has slashed the price of the Goldstar 3DO Interactive Multiplayer System to $200 with an extra $30 Goldstar 3DO controller and two top-selling games.

The other shoe drops – following its personal computer server price cuts, Hewlett-Packard Co has cut prices on its Pentium-based Vectra VL, Vectra XM and Vectra XU personal computers by up to 16% and says they now cost up to 12% under comparable Compaq Computer Corp kit.

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Cable & Wireless (Ireland) Ltd is protesting to the Department of Communications in Dublin over state monopoly Telecom Eireann’s proposed price increases for leased lines of up to 55%, saying it is anti-business and a clear abuse of monopoly; many businesses will see the charges for leased lines jumping to over #Ir2,600 from #Ir1,700, compared with #1,560 charged in the UK.

Optimus SA, Warsaw has signed an agreement with the Seikosha Europe GmbH to assemble Seikosha printers.

AST Research Inc warns that it expects to take a $20m restructuring charge this quarter to cover the cost of cuts at its Hong Kong manufacturing operations as it moves more personal computer assembly work to its China facilities; it appears that about 530 Hong Kong AST employees will lose their jobs.

SoftKey International Inc, Cambridge, Massachusetts is not going to give up on its pursuit of Learning Co without a fight, and despite a plunge in its share price on the news that it was suing and being sued over the bid, it has raised its offer to $606m with $65 cash per share on offer for the first 50%, shares for the rest, which it says is 9% above Broderbund Software Inc’s rival bid, which is agreed; SoftKey thinks the software should be much cheaper than it is, The Learning Co thinks that cheap software would not generate enough cash for research and development.

Indigo Ltd, a new Internet service provider, has been launched in Eire by the Irish Communications Minister: the company has already created 20 new jobs and expects to employ more than double that number by mid-1996; it has already invested more than $8m in set-up costs and is budgeted to invest a further $8m, it said; the new service will go live on December 8, Indigo said.

Cray Research Inc has an order for multiple J932 supercomputers from the NASA Center for Computational Services: the J932 systems, each scalable up to 32 processors, will be clustered to provide a tightly integrated distributed memory environment to tackle even larger computational workloads, Cray said.

France Telecom is cutting prices on a series of data services from January 1, including the Transfix data lines for 64Kbps and 2Mbps, which are to be cut by up to 19%.

Tele Danmark A/S reports that the Danish government has decided to go for full liberalisation of the teecommunications market from July.

Northern Telecom Ltd has signed a co-development pact with Cabletron Systems Inc for joint development and marketing of integrated communications and network products and services associated with Cabletron’s Spectrum for Open Systems network management software for MMAC SmartSwitch intelligent hub product lines and Northern’s Magellan Passport and Meridian 1 product portfolios: the two say the pact was to address the growing convergence of voice, video and data networks and customers’ need to view, configure, troubleshoot and secure their multimedia networks; the Canadian and Cabletron also plan to standardise on each other’s products within their organisations; Cabletron also plans to install a network of Northern’s Meridian 1 PABX systems and Norstar digital key systems in an 80-location worldwide network, it said.

Japan’s Softbank Corp, which announced that it would launch an Internet service in China with Unitech Telecom and Chinese telecommunications company Jitong Communications Co (CI No 2,802) says that the three companies are aiming for net profit of $33m on sales of $90m from Internet business in the year 2000: under the 20-year contract, Jitong will take 55% of profits while Softbank and Unitech will jointly take 45% in the first 10 years; in the following 10 years, Jitong’s share will go up to 60%.

Remember when IBM Corp used to say things like you want to use X25 instead of SNA? – that will be $25,000 for a Series 1 to run the protocol conversion software and act as a packet assembler-disassembler; I’ll have to come back to you on the cost of the software, or you want to run AIX/370 on your mainframe? That will be $30,000 for the RS/6000 to support the ASCII terminals and handle conversion to EBCDIC? The first sign that IBMosclerosis is beginning to grip Microsoft Corp comes with news that it hopes to mobilise Visual Basic to counter the Java threat.

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