NETSCAPE UNVEILS NAVIGATOR 3.0
Trying to stay one step ahead of Microsoft, Netscape announced a new version
of its Navigator Web browser, just three months after the last one.
Navigator 3.0 includes features such as software for making phone calls over
the Internet, a "shared whiteboard," enabling users in different locations
to collaborate on a document, and 3D graphics. The new browser will also
link to the VeriSign service to provide security for electronic commerce.
(Wall Street Journal 29 Apr 96 B7)
MERGER CREATES 3RD-LARGEST COMPUTER SERVICES GROUP
Computer Sciences Corporation will acquire the Continuum Company for $1.4
billion in stock to become the third-largest provider of computer services,
with IBM and EDS in the top two slots and Andersen Consulting coming in 4th.
(New York Times 30 Apr 96 C1)
INTEL VIDEOCONFERENCING SYSTEM FOR MULTIPLE SITES
Intel's new ProShare desktop videoconferencing system allows up to 24 sites
to connect on a single phone call, making the process much less expensive
for people who need to connect to multiple sites. Currently, a user must
install a special circuit board in their PC to use the ProShare system, but
a software-only version is due out later this year. The system will make it
much easier to run desktop videoconferencing over corporate networks.
"We've been waiting all these years for a picture phone, and we just might
get it. But it won't be a phone, it will be a computer," says an industry
observer. (Wall Street Journal 30 Apr 96 B7)
NEWS SERVICES GO TO WEB
The Wall Street Journal has announced an interactive version of its news
service on the Web at < http://www.wsj.com/ >, which is currently free;
later this spring the cost will be $49 a year for individuals who don't
subscribe to the print version of the Journal, and $29 a year for those who
do. (Wall Street Journal 29 Apr 96 B1) Microsoft, on the other hand, is
planning to turn its MSN News and other news Microsoft Network news products
into a free Web-based service. Microsoft will also offer its non-news MSN
content over the Web beginning in mid-May, for a fee <
U.S. PC SHIPMENTS UP 14% TO 15%
Dataquest and International Data Corp. both released estimates of 14% to 15%
growth in U.S. personal computer shipments during the first quarter of 1996,
indicating a worldwide increase of about 18%. The top five companies in
terms of units sold were Compaq (for the second year in a row), Packard
Bell, Hewlett-Packard (up from No. 7 last year), Apple and Gateway 2000.
(Wall Street Journal 29 Apr 96 A3)
BELL ATLANTIC-NYNEX MERGER PUTS VIDEO ON HOLD
The first order of business once telco giants Bell Atlantic and Nynex merge,
will be an aggressive launch into long-distance markets, with wireless cable
less of a priority initially. "The video stuff is clearly back-burnered,"
says Howard Anderson of the Yankee Group, who predicts Internet-related
services will come second. "The revenue potential is greater in long
distance, and it also helps solidify their positions in the local business,"
says a consultant with Furman Selz. "It's also an area they know. It's not
as far afield as video, so the learning curve is much shorter."
(Broadcasting & Cable 29 Apr 96 p92)
Internet shoppers who'd rather write a check than use plastic can use a new
payment option offered by Azteq Direct Internet Superstore <
http://www.azteq.com/ > -- Azteq I-Check. Customers provide checking account
data on an encrypted order screen or by phone, or can fax a copy of a check.
The payments are processed by PhoneChex Systems, which prints out a physical
demand draft for deposit to Azteq's account. "Fraud is going to be there no
matter what we do," says PhoneChex's president. "But the fraud of credit
cards over the phone is much larger than taking checks over the phone or
online." (Investor's Business Daily 30 Apr 96 A8)
HAS ISDN'S TIME COME AND GONE?
"ISDN was a sort of a `Field of Dreams' technology," says the chief
technologist for Citicorp. "The thought was, `Build it, and they will
come.'" But it's been slow going, and with cable modems and ADSL
(asynchronous digital subscriber lines) technology on the horizon, some are
predicting ISDN's time is already past. "If they were serious about
marketing ISDN, I would expect to see billboards and placards on buses,"
says a Forrester Research analyst. "They'd offer free installation,
discount coupons in hardware packages, and bundled Internet access service."
Instead, ISDN installation is expensive, and its speed still unimpressive
for activities such as Web browsing, where cable modems' and ADSL's much
greater downstream capacity is a big advantage. (Information Week 22 Apr 96
MOTOROLA'S MILLION CABLE MODEMS
Motorola is shipping the first of a million cable modems ordered by cable
companies such as Time Warner, TCI and Comcast, among others. Cable
operators plan to charge between $25 and $40 a month for online access at
speeds hundreds of times faster than ordinary phone lines. Critics have
cited problems with cable modem technology, including electrical "noise,"
limitations on two-way transmissions, and potential user overload, but a
Motorola VP says, "Bullfeathers, this stuff works and it's in homes." (Wall
Street Journal 29 Apr 96 B7)
OS/2 WITH EARS
IBM says the next version of its OS/2 operating system, code-named Merlin,
will include voice-recognition capabilities. "A keyboard and a mouse are
very foreign to most human beings," says IBM's VP for personal software
products. "Speech is a much more natural way of interacting with your
computer." Merlin is expected to hit the market during the second half of
this year, priced below $100. (St. Petersburg Times 29 Apr 96 p9)
MCI ONE SERVICE
MCI's new MCI One service will provide one-stop shopping for everything from
long-distance phone service to Internet access to a Westinghouse
home-security system that alerts a parent when his or her child enters or
leaves the house. (Wall Street Journal 30 Apr 96 B7)
GORE WANTS CABLE EVERYWHERE
Vice President Al Gore told a convention of cable TV industry executives
that they should wire every U.S. home, school and library by the year 2000,
saying: "I challenge you to pursue your own commitment to the public
interest with ferocity." Gore compared the effort to President Kennedy's
call in the 1960s for the space industry to place a man on the moon by the
end of that decade. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution 30 Apr 96 B1)
Peter Lyman, the Librarian of the University of California-Berkeley notes a
linguistic paradox: "We always talk about new technology using old
vocabulary. 'Electronic publishing', 'digital library', 'information
highway': to our grandchildren these terms will probably sound as peculiar
as 'horseless carriage'." (New York Times 29 Aprx 96 B1)