An Australian company has leapt into battle with the marketing muscle of Microsoft, and has refuted any suggestion that MS Encarta's Australian content can even be compared with the homegrown product.
According to Tony Webster, general manager of the Webster Publishing division of Infosentials, in terms of content, its Encyclopedia Reference Library, including Encyclopedia of Australia, has more Australian content than any other multimedia encyclopedia.
Webster spoke up after a report in ARN Livewire in which Microsoft officials claimed that Encarta 99 had more Australian content than other interactive, multimedia encyclopedias on the market.
At the launch of Microsoft's Encarta 99 product, speakers talked at length about the encyclopedia's Australian content - one of Microsoft's main selling points.
In a letter to ARN, Webster documented that his company's product, Websters Encyclopaedia Reference Library, has 2360 biographies of famous Australians in business, politics, sport and the performing arts, between 300,000 and 400,000 words on Australian history, descriptions of more than 480 Australian flowers and more.
He said: "Our Australian content fills 670 megabytes of a CD, which we believe is 10 times more than our nearest competitor."
Microsoft's marketing manager for Encarta, Melinda Dunn, denied she or her colleagues claimed it had the most Australian content. "We didn't claim that, we said we have a very strong Australian content. We have the only Australian-based editor and we have worked hard to tie the product closely with Australia's educational curriculum," she said.
But Webster pointed out that Webster Publishing, being owned and based in Australia, has multiple Australian editors working on its various encyclopedia products. "We get a lot of positive customer feedback about the Australian content and especially the Australian voices in audio and video files," Webster claimed.
In the last five years, Webster Publishing has sold more than 1.5 million CDs through Australian retailers. While its products are sold through mass retailers, they are also available to independent resellers direct from the publisher.
Webster Publishing (02) 9939 5505
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