COMDEX: Apple is considered just a niche company at trade show

CobraBoy! (
Wed, 19 Nov 1997 08:08:53 -0800

LAS VEGAS (November 19, 1997 02:23 a.m. EST - The
225,000 or so computer industry vendors, pundits, analysts and reporters
who pay $595 to attend one day of the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas get an
advance peak at the latest technology. But, sometimes, the greater
education can come from seeing who isn't present or mentioned.

For example, Apple Computer Inc., which launched its storied Macintosh
computer at Comdex in the early 80s, no longer gets respect as an industry

The Cupertino company made a well-publicized announcement of a new line of
computers and a new direct sales program last week, but apparently that was
a mere splash in the ocean to a Sunday afternoon round-table discussion of
industry analysts, who didn't mention Apple once.

When a reporter asked about the omission, given Apple's dominance of
certain desktop computing niches, Tim Bajarin, of San Jose-based Creative
Strategies Consultants Inc., said, in effect, that niche mentality is the
problem. Apple's strongholds are small slices, not big chunks, of the

"They've basically lost the corporate battle," said Bajarin, referring to
the need to establish a market among businesses, since they spend the most
money on computers.

John Gantz, senior vice president of International Data Corp., of
Framingham, Mass., noted that Apple's share of the PC market had fallen
below 4 percent. "People tend to be looking at Apple more as a death watch
than asking, "Can they resurrect?"' Gans said.

While Apple's relative obscurity is a reflection of their fortunes, a more
successful Silicon Valley name is also absent, for entirely different

Netscape Communications Corp., of Mountain View, was a center of attention
here last year, with CEO James Barksdale giving one of the coveted keynote
ad dresses.

Netscape doesn't even have a booth at this year's show, and the only
company exec listed among seminar participants is Marketing Senior Vice
President Mike Homer.

While Netscape is making money and growing, the company is enmeshed in the
so-called browser wars with much larger, wealthier Microsoft Corp., of
Redmond, Wash.

Rosanne Siino, Netscape vice president for corporate communications, said
exhibiting at Comdex was a lot of hassle and money for too little result.

"Comdex is a very expensive show, and the returns on our investment weren't
as high as we had hoped," she said.

Netscape declined to say how much it had spent on the trade show last year,
but a company spokeswoman said it was millions. Siino said Netscape would
host a hospitality suite for key customers at this year's show.

Microsoft, on the other hand, is sparing neither expense nor energy to put
across its vision of the computing future - which contrasts sharply with

That contrast is evident in the warring camps' plans for the desktop.
Netscape and a group of allies, including Sun Microsystems Inc., are
championing a model of computing dependent on larger server computers using
the new Java programming language to feed stripped-down, desktop computers,
called network computers, or NCs.

The idea is to limit the influence of personal computers, or PCs, dependent
on Microsoft software.

Microsoft, however, is fighting back with its usual deluge of marketing.
Promotional shopping bags printed with its Internet Explorer 4.0 browser
logo are ubiquitous here, and press kits contain a 36-page guide to the
Microsoft Pavilion in the front of the Las Vegas Convention Center, one of
the prime chunks of real estate at the mammoth conference.

In a press reception Sunday night, Microsoft executives ripped the
Sun-Netscape NC strategy as self-serving and based on unproven technology.
And they vigorously defended the company against charges by the U.S.
Department of Justice that Microsoft is using its monopoly in desktop
operating systems to try to take over the market for Internet browsers now
led by Netscape.

"If it's illegal, we won't do it," said Microsoft Vice President Steve
Ballmer. "We don't have a monopoly. We have a lot of market share."

Earlier in the evening, Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates celebrated
the PC in a slickly scripted, though disjointed, keynote address Sunday
night. The idea was to show how PCs - not NCs - connected to networks could
help users in a variety of walks of life. If anyone missed the point, every
seat in the Aladdin Hotel auditorium where Gates spoke was draped with a
free, "I love my PC" T-shirt.

By ANDREW ZAJAC, San Francisco Examiner


the me that you know used to have feelings but the blood has stopped pumping and he's left to decay the me that you used to know doesn't come around much that part of me isn't here anymore. NIN

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