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May 31, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Sun Microsystems’ Far Eastern operation is actively courting the clone makers – particularly the Taiwanese and Koreans encouraging them to produce low-cost workstations built around versions of the Sparc RISC microprocessor. This past month the subsidiary, run by Neil Matheson, has been conducting Sparc seminars in those countries aimed at forging what Sun calls Applications Binary Interface alliances with the major Asian manufacturers. Best guess is that Sun is out after a serious piece of the microcomputer market encouraged by OS/2’s reported performance problems and the RAM shortages that are bound to dog its spread, as well as the seeming success of Sun’s own recently released 386i workstation, which runs MS-DOS as a task under Unix and is said to have already attracted orders in excess of the total intended production run. The evidence suggests that Sun is launched on the heady course of empire-building, determined to duplicate IBM’s success with PC-DOS, but to do it better than IBM ever did. In this, the Asian campaign is strategic. Rather than fight the clonemakers as IBM did, why not harness them? Incite them to flood the low end of the market with cheap Sparc-compat ibles and create a vast pyramid with Sun at the apex dominating the high end – with no Microsoft to syphon off software revenues. In the East, Sun already has Toshiba on its side making a version of the Sun-4 workstation series, and the pair are also co developing a Sparc laptop, which is expected to deliv er more than 7 MIPS, performance comparable with that of the Sun-4.

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