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July 22, 1991

SPARC INTERNATIONAL CHIEF REPLIES TO CRITICISMS OF ITS CHARGES

By CBR Staff Writer

Sparc International members have apparently been grousing about the amount of money the consortium is spending. So chairman Bob Duncan decided to face the critics down in the June issue of Sparc-Line, the group’s newsletter, starting with a list of some of their complaints: Why does it cost $50,000 for a systems compliance test? Why does the chip test suite cost $35,000? Why does it cost $2,000 to test an application that already runs on Sun? Why is the trademark use fee $1.50 for each unit shipped? Duncan allows as how Sparc International – which he reminds everyone is a not-for-profit organisation – will have spent $5m by the end of the year developing specifications and test suites, but claims it’s running lean and isn’t spending on frills like fancy offices. He also admits it will spend over $400,000 in 1991 just for registering and protecting Sparc trademarks and another $250,000 promoting the Sparc brand – in addition to the $1m it already spent acquiring, developing and promoting the Sparc name. He reckons, however, that his members are getting a bargain and basically tells them to quit griping that they can’t afford it. That is contrary to the reasoning of leveraged spending, he lectures them, pointing out that it’s a lot cheaper for them to do things as a group than on their own. He itemizes the cost of three years of membership in Sparc International at $160,000 to a hardware vendor and $14,750 to a software house and reasons that that represents only 0.3% of their sales, provided that the box shifter moves 10,000 units at $5,000 each and software guy sells 5,000 units at $800. Maybe it’s that volume proviso his members are having trouble with, since few of them currently look like they’re capable of moving even conservative amounts of product.

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