[MD1] Can anyone save Packard Bell?
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[MD1] Can anyone save Packard Bell?

Not in the typical use of MacDev-1, this was a very intriguing piece.
Enjoy the diversion.

Thanks,
Neil Ticktin
MacTech Magazine
publisher@mactech.com

-------------------------------------------------------

This reprint is from:

Scott Kelby, MacToday@aol.com

CAN ANYONE SAVE PACKARD BELL?

)From the Mar/Apr issue of Mac Today Magazine (http://www.mactoday.com) by
Scott Kelby

The other day, while reading another article designed to scare the pants
off potential Apple customers and/or shareholders, I started wondering
what life would be like if I somehow got a writing gig at a PC magazine.
Besides having to wear the dorky-looking outfit, wire-rimmed glasses, and
pocket protector, I'm certain that during my first day on the job I'd be
handed a secret dossier that would include the closely guarded manual of
rules for writing any article that mentions Apple Computer. It would
include certain guidelines to follow, like "Any good news on Apple must
be followed by the word 'but' and then a direct reference to either: (a)
their small market share, (b) any quarterly loss in the past five years,
or (c) Microsoft's dominance.

This manual provides PC-worshipping journalists with guidelines for
"selective reporting" where only damaging facts and figures about Apple
are allowed. The latest amendment to their manual is how they should
refer to the Macintosh operating system. It must always be referred to as
"outdated." And even though Windows 95 tries to emulate the Macintosh
operating system, it must never, under any circumstances, be referred to
as outdated. That would be blasphemy.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the Macintosh press
needs a similar manual for writing about PC manufacturers. With that in
mind, I decided to write a few news blurbs on some of the PC
manufacturers so they'd get a little feel of that "selective reporting"
from a Macintosh point of view.

CAN ANYONE SAVE PACKARD BELL? Heavy competition and unexpectedly low
holiday sales are taking their toll on some PC manufacturers and Packard
Bell, once a shining star among PC clone makers, has fallen on hard
times. The beleaguered company is struggling amidst rumors of bankruptcy,
suffering a dwindling market share, and staggering from being rated at
the bottom of the heap for consumer loyalty (when polled earlier this
year, less than 35% of Packard Bell owners would buy another Packard
Bell). The public may be asking, "Can anyone save Packard Bell?" A recent
article detailing Packard Bell's woes in the December 30 issue of
Business Week magazine noted that "Many experienced consumers shied away
from Packard Bell, citing its reputation for shoddy quality and
indifferent service and support."

That same article noted that Packard Bell "has watched its sales and
market share slowly slide since last January." It pointed out that in the
first ten months of '96 alone, Packard Bell had already lost 8% of their
market share. In a business where market share is everything, a dramatic
drop like this could spell doom. Couple this with lagging sales (they
fell $1 billion short of their sales estimate) and a widely held
perception of shoddy quality and poor customer support, we can't imagine
a scenario where they'll be able to survive in the long haul. Packard
Bell, unlike rival Apple computer, which won the J.D. Power & Associates
award for overall customer satisfaction and has over 27 million fiercely
loyal customers, has quite an uphill battle to survive. And if they don't
survive will anybody really care__or will they just buy a cheap PC clone
from somebody else?

CAN ANYBODY SAVE GATEWAY 2000? Recent television advertisements by
upstart PC clone maker Gateway 2000 have raised serious questions about
the company's future. The advertisements point to sales figures of only
one million units, whereas rival computer maker Apple Computer had sales
figures of nearly four times that amount in the same time span. This
would put Gateway 2000's market share below 1.75% which, as any industry
analyst would tell you, means instant death in the highly competitive PC
clone market. With sales of only 1 million, it seems clear that Gateway
2000 has four times the problems of Apple Computer. Which brings us to
the question, "Can anybody save Gateway 2000?" Of course, if Gateway
doesn't survive there's always IBM.

CAN ANYTHING SAVE IBM? After surviving the largest single-quarter loss in
the history of business, IBM, once the leader in personal computers, has
seen its market share fall well behind industry rivals like Compaq and
Apple Computer. IBM, once the dominant PC maker, has seen its position
erode as PC clone makers and Apple Computer have seized the lion's share
of the desktop PC market. And their fiasco with OS/2 is better forgotten.
One bright spot in IBM's personal computing efforts is the success of the
PowerPC chip, developed in a joint effort by IBM, Motorola, and Apple
Computer, which is currently the fastest personal computer chip on the
market, speeding past competitor Intel's fastest offerings.

CAN ANYTHING STOP APPLE? After stunning the computer industry by bouncing
back to profitability from a $750-million quarterly loss earlier in the
year, Apple Computer just posted a comparatively modest $120-million loss
for its most recent quarter. The loss, which occurred during what has
been called one of the weakest fourth quarters for computer retailers in
years, is a far cry from Apple's problems of last year when the board was
forced to oust then-CEO Michael Spindler. In fact, a significant part of
Apple's recent loss was caused by the fact that high consumer demand for
Apple's new 1400 series PowerBook computer created a massive backlog of
orders. Although analysts have predicted Apple's demise every year since
1984, they're consistently wrong.

Although Apple does face some challenges, clearly there are many
companies that would envy Apple's position as the nation's fourth largest
personal computer maker, with over $1.8 billion cash in the bank, sales
of nearly four million units a year, a $200 million backlog of orders for
new units, and the number one ranking in consumer loyalty in the
industry. I guess the 27,000,000 Apple enthusiasts are just glad they
didn't buy a Packard Bell.

###

Also, check out Mac Today's newly updated "Mac Facts" page, designed as a
clear, concise resource for Mac users who want quick no-nonsense
Macintosh and Apple facts (ammo) to share with PC users who wouldn't
normally have access to this type of information. It features statistics,
quotes, and a host of Apple and Macintosh related facts and figures that
many will find fascinating. The Mac Facts page is found at
http://www.mactoday.com.

 

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