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October 25, 1995

MINIGRAMS EXTRA

By CBR Staff Writer

So you’re right on deadline and you get a press release saying that Motorola Inc has made a hostile bid for L M Ericsson Telefon AB – what do you do? It doesn’t exactly sound likely, but they’ve all gone home so you can’t check: nasty predicament, and it could have happened on Monday because Ericsson was trying to pin down the source of just such a hoax release yesterday, from Ericsson’s New York base.

Hitachi Data Systems Corp says it has a number of SR4300 configurations of IBM Corp’s SP2 installed internally for testing, and is in discussion with a number of European customers; it hopes to announce first sales in the next few weeks.

Rapacious Taiwanese computer and perpherals company Acer Inc has set a group sales target of $11,017m for the year 2000, the local Economic Daily News said, far exceeding the company’s original group sales target for the end of the millenium of $7,345m: in 1994, Acer group sales hit $3,121m and its initial group target for 1995 was $4,039m, which Acer increased to $5,141m in early October (CI No 2,768).

India’s software exports will grow at an annual rate of 38% for the rest of this decade in a market set to exceed $100m, and India may edge out close competitors Israel and Ireland in professional services, investment bank Peregrine Capital said in a report on the software industry made available to Reuters; the report suggests that India has the second largest pool of software professionals in the world after the US, and the world’s highest productivity-to-cost ratio; the empahsis is on custom and semi-custom work rather than products; the Indian government, obstructive for the first 40 years since independence, paying lip-service to fostering the software industry but imposing protectionist tariffs on imported computers, has responded by the collapse of socialism by establishing satellite links to keep programmers in touch with customers worldwide, round the clock.

It has been traditionally seen as a cushy billet for retired Ministry of Posts & Telecommunications staff so it is not surprising that Kokusai Denshin Denwa Co Ltd doesn’t want any more disruption to interrupt its slumbers: it says it will oppose the possible entry of Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp into the country’s international market – the latter asked the government to allow it to provide international services on the grounds that it would encourage more competition but an anguished Kokusai Denshin refutes this and says the move could undermine fair competition.

In the UK, Mercury Communications Ltd has long billed calls to the second of connect time rather than to the minute, and British Telecommunications Plc recently followed suit, so if AT&T Corp wants to compete in the UK market, it is going to have to offer rather keener pricing systems than it does back home in the US – there the company is being sued for allegedly cheating millions of residential long distance customers out of billions of dollars by charging them for telephone time they have not used, because it bills them to the minute, always rounded up to the next whole minute; the plaintiffs are Lawrence Marcus of Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, and Marc Kasky of San Francisco, but the suit asks for class-action status on behalf of the millions of residential AT&T customers throughout the US; AT&T responds caustically that It is the industry standard to bill by the minute, rounding up to the next nearest minute, – sorry guys, not this side of the water, it ain’t.

All the Japanese majors licensed Drexler Technology Corp’s optical storage card technology – uses lasers to write and read pits in a plastic coating on the card – and what Canon Inc has announced sounds as if it’s from the Drexler stable: Canon says it is ready with what it claims is the world’s smallest and lightest optical card reader-writer, the RW-50, which stores up to 6Mb and is 62% lighter and 72% smaller than the RW-20 model it replaces; it has capacity for storage of digital images such as photographs and X-rays, as well as text and strings of numbers as in the phone cards used in the pay phones of British Telecommunications Plc; the reader-writer sells for $4,000.

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Intracom SA, a grouping of Greek companies, is poised to play a decisive role in the modernisation of Bulgaria’s antiquated telephone system through a new joint venture, Reuter reports from Sofia: the Bulfon venture, which is in the process of being registered, will build up a fully independent digital cellular network in Bulgaria: it will be 32% owned by state-owned Bulgarian Telecommunications Co; Bulfon will also be involved in three other large-scale projects and its total investment in Bulgaria is expected to total some $200m; the other projects include digitisation of the Sofia region’s phone network, setting up a plant to produce Smart Card phone card, and installing and operate a nationwide phone card system for pay phones.

Sun Microsystems Inc reseller Rave Computer Associates Inc, based in Sterling Heights, Michigan has been signed to distribute the Hyundai Electronics Co-owned Axil Workstations Inc’s Sparcsystems and holds the exclusive US rights to market the Axilerate Sparc upgrade boards.

In effect suggesting that if you want to sleep soundly at night, you will be better off investing in firms that exploit technology to enhance their business rather than the technology stocks of the day, Barry Riley writes in the Financial Times technology is a powerful economic force, even if you do not gamble on particular companies with techno-babble names like Global Megatron, adding in parentheses if there is such a company somewhere in California, I apologise.

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