"Tomorrow will be the first time in my life I don't have anything to do." -- Bob Dole, conceding defeat.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top
A TEACHER FOR THE APPLE?
APPLE, WEIGHED DOWN BY A misbegotten software strategy, is in merger negotiations with an outside hi-tech shop, say figures close to the talks. The long-rumored union with Be Inc. is aimed at bailing Apple out of its Copland project, the Macintosh operating system's next version. In July, Ellen Hancock, the new chief technology officer, all but froze Copland, which is years late. Apple is under pressure to have a new software plan ready for the MacWorld trade show in January.
Be could be a big help for long-troubled Apple. Founded by former Apple tech czar Jean-Louis Gassee in 1990, it employs some of Apple's most respected former engineers and is adapting its Copland-like OS to run on the Mac, even if a merger fails.
Apple has yet to put a dollar figure on the table, but Gassee met with Apple CEO Gil Amelio in Hawaii in late October. Execs and advisers are working on the details. Closing the merger may not be all that easy, however: The silver-tongued Gassee wants a stock deal worth hundreds of millions, say insiders. Pushed out once as a result of Apple infighting, he wants broad control over OS development, although he has agreed to work for Hancock. Apple and Be declined comment on the negotiations.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT By Peter BurrowsReturn to top
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DEC PUTS ITS CHIPS ON AN UNKNOWN
HERE'S ANOTHER SIGN OF weakness at Digital Equipment. It's about to announce that its high-performance Alpha chip has been tapped for a new PC line. From Gateway 2000? Compaq? Nope. Tiny Enorex Microsystems, an Edison (N.J.) startup.
Analysts call this a comedown, one that underscores the challenge CEO Robert Palmer has of fixing money-losing Digital. The company, says Kevin Hause of International Data Corp., "would have loved to announce something with a name PC maker. But they couldn't find one." All the major PC players are committed already to Intel's chips.
A Digital exec plays down the Enorex deal's importance: "We don't look for it to be a barn-burner." The company won't comment on its well-known wooing of big-time PC makers to adopt the Alpha chip. Enorex PCs, priced at $2,999 to $5,499, will bypass traditional computer resellers and seek out its customers with mailings and phone calls. Digital says the new Alpha computers are aimed at the low end of the $3.2 billion workstation market, which IDC projects will quadruple by 2000. One problem: Enorex has an uphill battle selling powerful workstations to engineers via a catalog.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT By Paul C. JudgeReturn to top
SPRINT'S NEW CYBERSPACE SHOT
SPRINT IS ABOUT to launch a promotion aimed at vaulting its fledgling Internet service into the big leagues. Its secret weap-on: a video chain. The long-distance phone company is teaming up with Viacom's Blockbuster unit to offer a new Internet service aimed at the movie-renting public. Sprint will distribute 1.5 million Net-linking disks for the service through Blockbuster's 3,200 outlets to video and music customers.
The Sprint-Blockbuster software will deposit people at a Web site where they can preview film clips, listen to the latest music, and peruse movie and record reviews. From there, for $19.95 per month, they can cruise the Net. Sprint's multimillion-dollar promotion at Blockbuster will run just two months, although it may be extended.
Certainly Sprint has a long way to go with its Internet service, which began in August and has fewer than 50,000 subscribers so far. Industry leader AOL boasts more than 6 million, and telecom rival AT&T's Net outfit, 200,000.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT By Peter ElstromReturn to top