Going Gangbusters p.9

By: George Garneau The mood ? and the sales ? were positively buoyant among computer system vendors at the Nexpo exposition in New Orleans last week.
Almost in unison, they crooned about sales to newspapers increasing 15% to 30% or more this year ? a welcome turnaround after several years of lackluster, if not dreary, business conditions.
Following a "record" 1996, "We figure we're going into a boom time," said Geoff Osler, marketing director of Baseview Products Inc. of Ann Arbor, Mich.
"This is the big year. . . . We are on a roll," echoed CText president and CEO Larry H. Moore, who said in 25 years of attending Nexpo, he's "never seen this much buying activity. I don't see it slowing down in the next two or three years."
Such ebullience is unusual from a category of vendors known more for high attrition rates than high growth rates. Down at the prepress end of Nexpo, anyway, the usual gripes about thin traffic were conspicuously absent.
Take System Integrators Inc., for example. Recovering from a wrenching bankruptcy, SII posted system sales about double the projections for the last two quarters and is operating in the black, said Al S. Marshall, sales and marketing director.
SII said 26 prospective sales to big pa-pers were pending ? worth $25 million.
According to marketers, a confluence of conditions is driving newspapers to invest in new technology. Among them: a healthy national economy, surging newspaper ad revenues, low newsprint prices, aging "legacy" systems, the maturing of microcomputer-based systems and looming problems posed by the year 2000.
Newspapers also are investing in new technology to better service customers, and to cut costs by, for example, combining systems for two newspapers at one site, vendors say.
Other phenomena in evidence:
u A second European migration ? the arrival in force of pagination powerhouse CCI Europe and a reconstituted Linopress Publishing Systems under Heidelberg ownership.
u The materialization of the biblical prophecy about the first becoming last and the last first. In this case, former dominant suppliers of proprietary systems, Atex, SII and Harris among them, are struggling, while one-time upstart desktop publishing systems ? CText, Baseview, DTI ? have grown up from small newspapers to big-league metros.
u Growing acceptance of Microsoft's Windows NT operating system running client server architecture.
u The growing influence of the Internet on newspaper systems.
Here's what some executives had to say about their systems and the market.

While installing a 400-seat classified pagination system for the Los Angeles Times, CText President Larry H. Moore was optimistic about his company, one of the first to introduce microcomputer-based newspaper systems.
With a recent recapitalization and a new president, Tony Peri, hired from Harris, Moore said sales are up 20% to 25% this year, after a flat year in 1996, with ad systems "really hot."
Newspapers "want to be more competitive with tools and technology," he said, citing the L.A. Times and a 68-user ad system installed last month at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which also contracted for a 270-seat editorial and pagination system.
Moore said many newspapers are "re-engineering" operations, often merging systems, in an effort to improve customer service by, for example, giving customer reps access to not only circulation but also accounting databases so they can solve customer problems without transferring calls.
CText is seeking to license components such as an archive rather than developing its own.

Don A. Oldham, chairman and CEO of Digital Technology International, emphasized the strengths of DTI's database approach, especially in Web publishing, where new Web Client software puts information up automatically.
This year the company added PC capabilities to its previously all-Macintosh systems, with a choice of Windows NT or Unix servers.
DTI's archive system does sophisticated semantic searching of photos and graphics and is in testing at the library of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Oldham said.
New products include a combined ad order entry system for classified and display and an editorial budgeting system that helps editors assign and track news and photos, even among multiple papers linked on a wide area network (WAN).
Following a nearly 30% spike in sales to set a record last year, business was on track to double this year, Oldham said.
The company has 200 systems installed worldwide directly and 200 more through licensing. Customers include 14 Cox papers, which are linked and share news and features on a WAN.

CCI Europe, owned buy a two-century-old Danish company, acquired a U.S. pagination system in 1977 and developed it, mainly in Europe, before marketing it to U.S. papers, starting with Phoenix Newspapers about four years ago.
Now CCI has systems running in or contracted to nine major North American sites, including the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Toronto Star.
It started paginating existing front-end systems before adding its own editorial system, NewsDesk, which is running in European papers and scheduled for Indianapolis Newspapers, the Hartford Courant and Arizona Republic. With systems based on Oracle SQL databases and Windows NT servers, CCI ported its LayoutChamp from Unix to NT this year to solidify its newsroom system.
Jorgen Valker, vice president for North American sales, attributed the U.S. acceptance to the ability to integrate with other systems and the customizability that allows the system to adapt to individual papers. An ad management system is in development.
With a U.S. office in Marietta, Ga., North American operations are profitable, Valker said.

Atex Media Solutions, set back by ownership and technology shifts, got its third owner in about as many years in January, and has rebounded to sign 55 contracts this year.
The company's Enterprise ad system is "extremely popular" and accounts for about 100 of Atex's 150 client-server installations (in addition to 500 older systems), according to Allen Miller, marketing vice president.
Now with an experienced management team led by Larry Mihalchik, $20 million in new financing and a "healthy" balance sheet, the company is rebuilding and "can't hire people fast enough," Miller said, attributing some of the sales to renewed customer confidence.
Atex will maintain and upgrade the DewarView system, Miller said, while at the same time developing new products based on Windows NT and other Microsoft products. The strategy, he said, is to stick to the editorial and ad systems Atex does best and leave the rest to others.
Industrywide, as client-server technology and applications have matured to the point they can meet newspaper expectations, new competition and new media have created impetus for newspapers to spend on new technology, Miller said, creating opportunities for Atex. After some weak product showings in recent years, Atex's current approach is "rock solid," he said, pointing to recent upgrades.
Sales announced at Nexpo included Enterprise ad systems to the Seattle Times (160 seats), New Strait Times (100 seats) and an AdVantage system to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Also relaunching in January was SII, rebounding from a bankruptcy brought on by debt from a leveraged buyout. Since January it has announced sales worth at least $2 million at five major papers, including the Washington Post.
More than 140 deals, valued at over $6 million, signed since January, were about double projections, the company said, and included more than $2 million worth of Coyote/3 systems.
Business development manager George Salidas said SII was emphasizing openness. For example, a FaxAction component allows systems to accept news or advertising text by Internet, e-mail, fax, or file transfer. It also includes more components from third parties.
Further opening to the Internet, SII's Gateway Java scripting tools allow remote access to editorial and ad systems. And using Pantheon software, SII automatically formats news for Web distribution.

In its second Nexpo, Unisys showed its Hermes editorial and pagination system, based on DEC's 64-bit AlphaServer running Windows NT, along with the WireCenter wire management system, DocCenter multimedia archive, and a new page transmission system PageCast, allowing pages in PDF, PostScript or pre-RIPped to move to remote sites.
A prototype Web Editor module allows editors to produce Web pages just like newspaper pages. Another Internet tie allows journalists to browse wire services or archives at headquarters and download information using a Web browser, and then to file stories via e-mail.
Developed in Italy the system for medium-size to large papers has over 50 worldwide installations, including one U.S. site, the Gazette in Colorado Springs, said Gabriella Franzini, publishing marketing director.

Rising from the leftovers of corporate departure, CKP Newspaper Systems has quietly completed the former DuPont Whirlwind system, itself created by several system vendors acquired by DuPont.
Using a $2 million commitment from five users of the unfinished system ? including the Houston Chronicle ? former DuPont employees Dick Mooney and Pat Stewart formed CKP in Bedford, N.H., and finished the final 25% of the work.
Now with 13 employees and 50 newspaper customers, CKP took the system to the market at Nexpo, where it demonstrated the Millenium editorial and pagination system in place at the Chronicle and papers in Australia, Italy and Finland. It also showed its classified pagination system, in use at 15 sites, including the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Both are for sale.
Perhaps more significant for the future of newspaper systems, CKP showed a prototype classified system that mimics the Internet. Based on Web browser software, Windows and Java, the system is billed as "the first truly new classified system" in the last 20 years.
A client-server system running Unix, its system combines Internet and intranet functions with a fire wall between them.
"It has all the richness of the Web without creating all the interfaces," Mooney said.
The point is for classified reps to serve customers better by, for example, composing ads on the fly and faxing or e-mailing mock-ups to advertisers.
The system is 80% finished and wasn't expected to be offered for sale until the second quarter of 1998 ? after making it at two undisclosed newspaper test sites.

Linotype-Hell, two venerable names in German prepress, parted ways under the Heidelberg family with the launch of Linopress Publishing Systems.
Along with the organizational change, Heidelberg has made a "full, long-term commitment" to aggressively pursue North American systems business.
Linopress will be based in Germany but plans call for incorporation of a U.S. subsidiary to market and support the Linopress system, now at five U.S. sites.
Ken Pond, director of North American operations, described business as excellent and the company profitable with 105 employees, including 12 in sales and support based in Hauppague, N.Y.
At Nexpo, Linopress demonstrated a new archive system and production management and tracking from a major European supplier. It also has licensed its color management system to Microsoft.

?(The CText booth at Nexpo, where company president and CEO Larry H. Moore said, "This is the big year. . . . We are on a roll," adding that in 25 years of attending Nexpo, he's "never seen this much buying activity. I don't see it slowing down in the next two or three years.") [Photo & Caption]

?(With an experienced management team led by Larry Mihalchik, $20
million in new financing and a "healthy" balance sheet, Atex is rebuilding.) [Photo & Caption]

?(Don A. Oldham, chairman and CEO of Digital Technology International, said after a nearly 30% spike in sales to set a record last year, business was on track to double this year.) [Photo & Caption]

?(Ken Pond, director of North American operations for linopress, stressed his compny's "full, long-term commitment" to aggressively pursue the systems business in the U.S.) [Photo & Caption]

?E&P Web Site: http://www.mediainfo.com
?copyright: Editor & Publisher June 28, 1997


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