Modem Wars

The race between Motorola and U.S. Robotics to get the first 56-Kbps modems
to market is heating up, in the wake of U.S. Robotics' acknowledgment that
it couldn't meet its shipping deadline last week.  Because the products from
the two companies will not be compatible until a world standard is set
sometime in 1998, pressures are mounting on both sides to sell as many
devices as possible in the hope of establishing a de facto standard via the
market.  (Tampa Tribune 24 Feb 97)  U.S. Robotics announced it has now
shipped the first of its 56-Kbps modems, after postponing shipment earlier
so it could fix some bugs in the software.  Motorola plans to introduce its
products in a couple of months.  (Wall Street Journal 25 Feb 97)

Steve Jobs, who returned to Apple Computer in December after an 11-year
hiatus, is rapidly becoming the focal point for the computer company's
revival strategies, say analysts.  "It may not be official, but Jobs is the
guy," says a market researcher at Dataquest Inc.  "He will -- either through
influence or direct control -- have a say in what happens to this company."
Meanwhile, a number of top Apple executives have left over the past couple
of months, and several Next executives have assumed key posts -- Avie
Tevanian now runs Apple's software unit while Jon Rubinstein manages the
hardware unit.  "When you are running hardware and software -- that doesn't
leave much left over," says an analyst with Wasserstein Perella Securities.
(St. Petersburg Times 24 Feb 97)


A group of 25 individuals and organizations has filed a brief with the U.S.
Supreme Court, urging it to overturn a federal law restricting "indecent"
content in cyberspace.  The Communications Decency Act (CDA) specifies
punishment for anyone who knowingly provides "indecent" material to minors.
One of the signers, the American Association of University Professors, wrote
that it "is concerned that the CDA will chill online expression and
discussion on a wide variety of academic subjects (e.g., medicine, biology,
anatomy, social work, art, and journalism), impairing use of this promising
new medium for legitimate pedagogical and research purposes."  (Chronicle of
Higher Education 28 Feb 97)

FlyCast Communications Corp. is aiming to become the Web's advertising
liquidator, selling unused ad space through an electronic auction system.
The company estimates that most Web sites fill only about 50% of their
allotted space, often using the remainder for house ads or giving it away
free to steady customers.  FlyCast doesn't see its business as dominated by
blue light specials at rock-bottom prices, however.  It's setting up its
system so that agencies can snap up highly targeted ad space on short
notice, for premium prices.  (Wall Street Journal 24 Feb 97)