Business Computer World has been on Olivetti?s back about selling off its PC arm to raise cash and fight off the creditors (October and November 1996 issues). Although the picture had looked pretty bleak, there now seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for the Italian giant.
A consortium including Zanussi chairman Gianmario Rossignolo and American financier Edward Gottesman, called Piedmont International, has put together a 200 billion lire package to buy the PC arm, although the timing of the deal has yet to be confirmed. At this news, Olivetti shares jumped 7.35 per cent. The company had recently announced the reduction of its debt by $73m to $1.9bn.
Another ?victim? of the Letter to the Industry, SPC (December 1996 issue), has also taken Barometer?s advice to sell out. Before Christmas, Business Computer World met Barry Cinnamon of Allegro New Media, now the company?s new chief executive.
SPC now aims to become a market leader in add-ons to office suites. ?The market is all about ease of use,? said Cinnamon. ?We want to focus on how to present documents, not on how to use packages.? SPC?s Active Office utility uses intelligent formatting technology, allowing users to jazz up Word documents and Powerpoint slides without really thinking about it. The company has also snaffled up Serif, best known for its cheap and easy-to-use DTP package, which should add vim to its development of user-friendly applications.
Corel continues to marshal its forces for an assault on Microsoft?s grip on the office suite market. After becoming the sole developer of Borland?s Paradox database product late last year (November 1996 issue), the Canadian company has tied up a software bundling deal with Netscape Communications.
Corel will bundle Netscape?s forthcoming Communicator Web browser and groupware package with Wordperfect Suite 8 and Office Professional 8 applications, both slated for launch in May.
The deal will allow users to access the Web, check email and use everyday productivity applications, such as word-processing and spreadsheet software, all from one package. The suite will be in direct competition with Microsoft Office 97, launched last month, which includes Outlook, its own Web access and groupware client software.
According to Corel?s president and chief executive Michael Cowpland, Outlook is only useful to companies standardising on Office 97 and Microsoft?s Exchange groupware. ?We are going one step further,? he said. ?We?ll let you collaborate with others, not just with people who have Outlook, so you can build worldwide groupware.?
America Online (AOL) has come a cropper in its bid to fight back against Internet Service Providers.
As we reported in December?s Barometer, AOL introduced a flat monthly fee of $19.95, giving users unlimited access to its own content and to the Net, bringing its pricing in line with most ISPs. The scheme has been a hit ? AOL recently announced its eight-millionth user ? but the story is not all happiness.
Indeed, the porn-free online service became a victim of its own success when thousands of users rushed to log on simultaneously, creating a massive log jam. American users who pay no local phone call charges can now stay online all day without facing extra costs, and with roughly 10 members per line into AOL, the company?s service has been unavailable to many paying customers.
Users driven to despair by continual busy signals have filed class-action lawsuits in three US states against the online giant, citing breach of contract.
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