Apple/Sun dealings continue

Talks between Apple Computer Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc. continued last week regarding a possible sale of Apple to the workstation vendor.

The negotiations, which came to light two weeks ago, follow Apple's announcement last month of losses and layoffs. Apple has been struggling to maintain market share and profitability in its battle against Intel Corp.-based PCs running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating systems.

The takeover speculation comes amid a push in Apple's federal sector to regain the marketing initiative. "Apple is looking to make inroads in expanding federal market share," said Jan Morgan, an analyst with International Data Corp.'s Government Market Services. "They need to add more contract vehicles, and it wouldn't hurt them to add resellers."

In 1994 Apple signed Electronic Data Systems Corp., Government Micro Resources Inc. and Government Technology Services Inc. as federal resellers. In contracts, Apple gear was added last year to the Army's Sustaining Base Information Services contract, held by Loral Federal Systems. Apple products are also available on such contracts as NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement.

Apple's latest federal foray could involve signing additional resellers, according to industry sources. Officials at Apple's federal operation could not be reached for comment.

Uncertain Impact

A Sun/Apple marriage may or may not help Apple's standing in the federal market, industry observers said. On the one hand, Sun is well-entrenched in the federal market and could offer numerous teaming opportunities.

But again, Sun may focus first on commercial market issues, putting Apple's federal strategy on the back burner.

In fiscal '94 Apple was ranked fourth in federal market share for portable computers and fifth for desktop devices. Morgan said IDC is now working on fiscal 1995 market share.

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