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PC technologies and strategies for resellers and assemblersOptima gains foothold in education marketby Ellen CresswellSYDNEY - Making inroads into the lucrative education market is as good as gaining a licence to print money, according to Optima Computer Technology's managing director, Cornel Ung.

Optima, which has been in the assembly business for almost 10 years, derives the bulk of its revenue from the education market. And Optima's resellers are also reaping the rewards.

Now, the assembler is making a deliberate push into the channel, and is looking for resellers to deal with its products in the corporate and education sectors.

Although Optima deals directly with customers in Brisbane and Sydney, Ung said an expanded reseller base would allow the company to build on its current operations, particularly in regional Australia.

Ung says up to 60 per cent of the company's business comes from the education domain. It is listed on the NSW government DSE (Department of School Education) contract and the Federal Government PE60 contract. It is also on a number of other state government contracts around the country.

Optima is one of the largest suppliers of Intel-based PCs to the education market.

Curiously, the bulk of Optima's resellers are also Apple resellers. Ung says these businesses sell more Optima products than Apple products.

Optima plans to extend its education market by building on operations in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. A new branch office in Victoria is scheduled to open by the end of this year.

Cost centres

The assembler's core business is in manufacturing and sales, but it has built on that by setting up separate cost centres for each of its business units: sales, service, peripherals distribution and network integration.

Ung says the multiple revenue streams provide a "firm foundation for future growth".

IDC figures show the vendor was the second largest local manufacturer of desktop PCs in 1997.

Optima Computer Technology

Tel (02) 9841 2777

ShockRave with Presario line

SYDNEY - Home gamers and multimedia users are the target of a new agreement between Compaq and Macromedia.

Under the agreement, all new Compaq Presario multimedia PCs for home users will be bundled with Macromedia's Shockwave player.

The deal is part of a joint marketing agreement which will see the entire line of Presario PCs and notebooks sold with Shockwave. The PCs will also have a special ShockRave entertainment zone on the "My Presario" Web page. ShockRave is a dedicated online entertainment Internet site with games, toons and music from a handful of developers and entertainment companies.

Compaq says that by installing the plug-in, users will have easier access to games and toons. The end result is that users will receive more engaging content online.

From July 31, Presario users have been able to log in to the "My Presario" Web page and access ShockRave content. Every month, the page will preview a new feature for three weeks prior to its broad release on the ShockRave site.

Mobile vendors ask Microsoft, Intel to listen upMore than a dozen portable computer and mobile accessories manufacturers, led by Compaq Computer and 3Com, have formed a group to let Microsoft and Intel hear one voice - loud and clear.

The Mobile Advisory Council, which also includes IBM, Toshiba and Fujitsu, will make recommendations to Microsoft and Intel about appropriate standards for mobile computing hardware and software.

Standards based on desktop computers have often been imposed on these mobile hardware vendors, and that causes technical and design difficulties, the council said in a statement.

Microsoft and Intel both responded with statements that support the group.

Although the council will work closely with the two companies, Microsoft and Intel aren't members.

AMD, Motorola tout partnership

AMD and Motorola's Semiconductor Product Sector have announced plans for a strategic alliance for at least the next seven years.

The agreement includes a patent cross-licence agreement and collaborative devel-opment of common process technology platforms for both microprocessors and embedded flash memory.

The companies will collaborate on the development of technology for their respective microprocessors: Motorola's PowerPC chip and AMD's K86 chips. The two companies will also work on developing process technology for embedded flash memory.

Free desktop PC BIOS year 2000 test and fixViasoft, a leading provider of business solutions to help companies manage and evolve their information technology assets, is offering a free download of its OnMark 2000 BIOS year 2000 solution from its Web site (www.onmark.viasoft.com/fix-it). The free software download tests and fixes potential year 2000 system hardware problems on PCs.

The BIOS test and fix is part of Viasoft's OnMark 2000 family of software technology, a suite of products designed to address each phase of Y2K conversion on PCs and client/server applications. The product is currently being used on desktops in banking, insurance, securities and manufacturing industries as well as government agencies.

Viasoft is in the process of developing its channel for OnMark 2000, appointing distributors, partner systems integrators and resellers in Australia and New Zealand.

Intel's Xeon on track despite bug number twoby Ellen Cresswell and James NiccolaiSYDNEY - Assemblers are on schedule to receive Intel's Pentium II Xeon processors this week, despite finding a second bug - or "erratum" as Intel calls them - in the new high-end processor.

Intel had hoped to deliver Xeon to server manufacturers in June, but the chip maker discovered a glitch in the processor that caused it to malfunction when used in four-way configurations, meaning the chip so far has only appeared in workstations and low-end servers.

That problem has now been fixed, but in the process Intel discovered a second bug which affects the chip's error correcting code (ECC) technology, said Intel spokesman Robert Manetta.

The ECC measures and monitors the parity of memory bytes. If there is a difference between the information sent and the information received, the ECC corrects the information so the server doesn't lose any of it.

Only some of the Xeon processors coming off Intel's production line are affected by the second bug, so Intel is "screening" the Xeon chips as they are produced to ensure that only those with ECC capabilities are shipped to server manufacturers, Manetta said.

"We fully expect there will be enough Xeon processors that can execute the ECC capabilities to meet server demand," he added.

Intel will start shipping the four-way compatible Xeon chip-sets to server makers in a week to 10 days, Manetta said.

Portable iMac to round out Apple's product lineby David LegardSINGAPORE - Apple Computer will round out its simplified product line early next year with a portable counterpart to its new iMac desktop, Appleofficials said last week.

Giving the keynote address at Macworld Expo Singapore '98, David Moody, Apple's director of worldwide desktop product marketing, said that Apple had rationalised its product line to address two market segments, professional and consumer, using two configurations, desktop and portable.

The Macintosh G3 and the Powerbook G3 fill out the professional segment, while the iMac, due to be launched in September, will be the desktop consumer product, Moody said.

"In the first half of 1999, we will be able to show you something completely new at the portable end of the consumer space," he added.

Positive response

Moody said Apple's decision to equip the iMac with Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports has won a positive response from peripherals vendors.

Major printer manufacturers are also preparing USB adapters, he said.

During the Macworld conference, Jeff Martin, Apple's senior director of worldwide design and publishing, suggested that the iMac product, with Apple Internet software such as WebObjects, could have special significance for Asia.

"We believe the Internet is a way Asia can bounce back from its economic downturn," Martin said.

"The Internet helps smaller businesses reach out to new partners and find new markets, and it's Apple's aim to help everyone become a Web publisher."

Worldwide PC market slow but steady, researchers sayby Rebecca SykesBOSTON - Worldwide PC shipments reached 21.1 million units in the second quarter of this year, up 13.9 per cent over the same period last year, market researcher Dataquest announced last week.

However, second-quarter PC shipments as calculated by International Data Corp showed a worldwide rise of just 7 per cent over the same quarter last year, with a 3 per cent decline over the first quarter.

For US vendors, shipments increased 12 per cent for the quarter, according to a statement from Dataquest. IDC showed US vendors boosting their shipments by 10 per cent.

The second tier of vendors in terms of market share, which includes Hewlett-Packard, Gateway 2000 and Packard Bell NEC, are also very closely tied, with roughly 7.7 per cent each, according to the statement from IDC.

Local IDC figures should be out within the next week.

Drop me a line

ARN's PC Solutions section showcases PC technologies and strategies for resellers and assemblers. If you have any tips for news in ARN's PC Solutions section, phone the section editor, Ellen Cresswell, on (02) 9902 2777, or e-mail ellen_cresswell@idg.com.au


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