March 7, 1997 7:00 PM ET
UMAX will make both Mac and Wintel lines
By Robert Lemos

  UMAX Data Systems Inc. will announce on Monday that it will be the first company to offer both Mac OS and Wintel platforms to the computer market. Until now, no single company has offered both approaches.

Two of the Taipei, Taiwan, company's subsidiaries will be making the competing platforms: UMAX Computer Corp. will continue to make Macintosh clones, while UMAX Technologies Inc., a desktop scanner vendor, will announce Monday its intention to produce Intel computers, said UMAX Technologies President Vincent Tai in an exclusive PCWeek Online interview.

Anyone familiar with UMAX would not find the strategy a leap: A UMAX subsidiary, Elitegroup Computer Systems Inc., has been in the Intel motherboard business for some time. In fact, the Fremont, Calif., company did more business in motherboards last year than UMAX Computer Corp. brought in selling Macintosh clones.

"We have been doing Intel-based PCs for a long time," said Tai. "It has always been UMAX's strategy to build both computer platforms." The UMAX group, a $1.2 billion conglomerate in 1996, has businesses throughout the spectrum of computer products: from software to hardware, PCs to scanners.

But the decision to go full throttle into the Wintel platform market was a recent one. "Intel approached UMAX," said Tai. "They wanted to push the CPU for the high end of the market."

UMAX is targeting computer graphics, an area that is small enough that Tai thinks the Compaqs of the world will not bother with it.

"With Pentium-based systems, we can finally challenge the low end of the Silicon Graphics market," said Tai.

However, others see danger in UMAX's strategy. "We haven't seen them add any value to the Mac OS market," said Mike Rosenfelt, director of marketing for competing Mac clone vendor Power Computing Corp., based in Round Rock, Texas. "It's hard to forecast their success in the Wintel market."

Tai said Apple Computer Inc.'s troubles were not the cause of UMAX's decision to add a Wintel line.

"Our chairman [Frank Huang] always wanted to be involved in the PC market," he said.

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