This month should see San Diego-based RDI Computer Corp’s official launch in Europe and volume customer shipments, which were delayed by one month, of its new generation PowerLite portable Sparc workstation, says Reg Broughton, RDI vice-president of marketing and international sales. Although RDI has resellers in most European countries, the company is attending its first […]
This month should see San Diego-based RDI Computer Corp’s official launch in Europe and volume customer shipments, which were delayed by one month, of its new generation PowerLite portable Sparc workstation, says Reg Broughton, RDI vice-president of marketing and international sales. Although RDI has resellers in most European countries, the company is attending its first trade show this week in London at SunScope and plans to be at CeBit in the spring, he said. In 1994, RDI also plans to add new technologies, notably PCMCIA, to its portable workstations in order to accomodate diverse media, Broughton said. Key for us is cellular and PCMCIA, he said, adding that the company would, however, follow the Sun’s lead and the requests of its users in determining which technologies to implement first. The company is particularly curious to see whether combining WABI and PCMCIA technologies in its portable workstations could nudge RDI into the high-end personal computer market, Broughton said. Bulk shipments of the PowerLite hit the road this month as well, he said, although initial shipments have already reached Seiko Epson Corp, RDI’s master distributor in Japan, which agreed in early December to market the PowerLite.
High hopes for Japanese market
RDI has high hopes for the Japanese market, since it believes the PowerLite better suited to run Japanese-language applications than is its competitor Tadpole Technology Plc’s machines, Broughton said. We implement Sun’s operating system object code on the portable, so we don’t have some of the neat little things for power management, like the icon that says your battery is running low, whereas Tadpole took the source code and wrote that stuff in, Broughton said. But using source code makes it more difficult for them to implement new versions of SunOS. Neither can they provide Japanese Solaris. He adds that SunExpress sold a certain number of Tadpole units in Japan, but has cancelled that contract to go with RDI. Also, the Japanese are keener on portability than most users because office space is at a premium and their smaller hands are well suited to the smaller keyboards, Broughton said. The Japanese market should enable RDI to maintain significant margins as well, since the PowerLite’s Japanese price of approximately $19,800 is roughly 70% higher than the US price, Broughton said. The president of Epson told me that the Japanese like to buy expensive things. He said they will buy expensive over cheap because they always believe expensive means quality, he said. The price of portable workstations cannot decline much without a drop in the price of color active matrix liquid crystal diode display technology, which is currently owned by the Japanese, first, he says. The Japanese prefer to own a market and sell only 100,000 units than to open it up and sell 1m, because it fits in better with their management style; margins that allow long-term planning, he said. Thus, he adds, they have no interest in bringing the price down. Broughton noted, however, that he has evidence to support his belief that the Koreans and some of the other Asian tigers will get into the active matrix LCD technology, which will bring the price down. RDI is largely backed by Korean giant personal computer manufacturer Trigem Computer Inc. Broughton said RDI, which is a privately owned company, expects to do $25m in revenue for its current fiscal year to May 31. Marsha Johnston