CeBit: Olivetti plots server, notebook future

A revitalised Olivetti Personal Computers gave its Piedmont-driven management team a public airing at CeBit today while announcing a range of entry-level Echos notebooks and an entry-level server.
Written by Marc Ambasna Jones, Contributor

While promising to "shake off the past," the company outlined a strategy which included greater emphasis on servers, while continuing to make inroads into the notebook market, both in Europe and the US. The company will maintain its notebook-only US subsidiary in Austin, Texas but, according to Armando Traverso, vice president of the professional business unit, has no plans to extend the product range to include servers.

Servers currently account for just three per cent of the company's product sales, a figure which chief executive Bernhard Auer said will grow during 1997. The company has announced partnerships with eight companies, including Novell, Netscape, Oracle, SCO, Intel and Cisco as part of its Server Club initiative.

The NetStrada 1000, Pentium Pro-based server is key to gaining share in the developing SME market. It boasts Fast Ethernet and Ultra-Wide SCSI and a choice of 200MHz and 180Mhz processors.

The Echos notebook range, which is based on 150, 133 or 120MHz Pentium processors is a multimedia machine with 12.1-inch SVGA screen.

With Auer dismissing that there would have to be large scale workforce and subsidiary trimming, the company is putting a lot of hope in its products pulling it out of trouble. He admitted that there would have to be some redundancies, "but not to the scale of 1995/6".

"The company has emerged from turmoil," said Steve Brazier, senior Dataquest PC products analyst. "New investors have given it a new lease of life but there are some massive challenges ahead. But it is possible. There are a number of precedents, such as Lexmark, of companies successfully emerging from a corporate mess."

Financial figures are not yet available and Auer would not comment on any profitability impact of keeping the company afloat before the injection of Piedmont money. Dataquest's Brazier added that "the question is, how much money does the new Olivetti have and how long will that money will last before the business has to start paying for itself again?"

Auer is confident that the company is making quick and comprehensive moves to secure what looks to be a Euro-centric future. A centralised European support centre has been set up and former Digital man Roland Netter has been appointed as managing director for central Europe.

Editorial standards