Digital will vanish inside the corporate structure of Compaq if the proposed merger goes ahead, warned one of Digital's senior executives in an interview with PC Week US.
When the plans for the acquisition were announced, it was believed that Digital would remain a separate entity within Compaq, just as Tandem exists as a subsidiary with only the sales staff being absorbed into Compaq.
However, Harry Copperman, Digital's senior vice president and group executive of the products division, revealed: "The plan is not to run two separate companies. It was clear after the first meeting (between Compaq and Digital) that there were too many opportunities not to integrate."
In the UK, Compaq was prevented from making comment because of the 90-day "quiet period" following the merger announcement, in which no matters concerning the deal should be made public.
Decus, the UK user group for Digital customers, is behind Compaq in the deal. "No-one cares whether they're called Digital Alphas or Compaq Alphas, Digital OpenVMS or Compaq OpenVMS," said Alastair King, chairman of Decus.
"All we want to know is that they will be supported."
Copperman addressed the possible impact of Intel's forthcoming 64-bit Merced chip versus the Alpha chip. "If Merced comes out cheaper and faster than Alpha, then Alpha goes away - but I don't see that happening," he predicted.
But Linley Gwennap, editor of the Microprocessor Report, cast doubt on Compaq's motives. "I wouldn't be surprised if Alpha is faster but it would have to be better than 20% quicker," he explained. "It's more than just the Alpha chip - it's the operating system and the various interface chips, so it's really a question of how much Compaq is willing to invest to have two or three separate platforms chasing after the 20% of the market that uses high-end platforms."
Copperman added that redundancies will be inevitable as the merging companies eliminate "overlap" - primarily in the PC divisions. As for his own fate, he seems resigned to whatever the future holds: "Being a captain of a rowboat and becoming second-in-command of a battleship, does that matter?"
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