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APPLE MAY CHARGE FOR USE OF FIREWARE SERIAL BUS.

Apple Computer Inc is considering charging royalties for FireWire, the high performance serial bus adopted as industry standard IEEE 1394, according to reports quoting sources at the 1394 Trade Association. Manufacturers looking to use the technology, aren't expected to be happy with the plan, which is said to call for a $1 royalty per port. Apple itself has added FireWire ports to all of its new G3 PowerMacs, and up to 4 million digital video cameras already have the ports. But the move could slow down wider adoption of the technology at a crucial stage of its development. Apple invented FireWire in the 1980s for connecting up multimedia consumer devices, but it didn't start to gain more widespread attention until the mid- 1990s, when it was adopted by companies such as Adaptec Inc, Texas Instruments Inc and Compaq Computer Corp. It still hasn't reached the mainstream computer market, although both Intel Corp and Microsoft Corp have promised support in future products. Signs were good at the recent MacWorld event, where 20 new products were launched, and Silicon Graphics Inc's new NT-based Visual Workstations, launched last week, came out with FireWire support. Some analysts have predicted that FireWire could replace SCSI within two years. Speed - up to 400 megabits per second - is not its only advantage: it uses less cumbersome cabling, and devices using it are hot-pluggable. While the new PowerMacs currently only support external FireWire devices, internal disk drive connections could be used to replace both SCSI and IDE. Companies who wish to use the FireWire name already have to take out a licensing agreement with Apple. Some - such as Adaptec - simply refer to products incorporating the technology as "1394" products. Sony Corp, which has more of a consumer focus, has its own brand name, i.Link, for which it is garnering support from like-minded companies. IEEE standards may include patented technology, and firms holding the patents can license and charge for the technology so long as the terms are considered "reasonable." Some long-term licensees, including Sony, IBM Corp and Philips, are reported to have paid a flat fee for the technology and won't be affected, but smaller peripheral makers starting to launch product may be.
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Comment:Apple Computer Inc considers charging royalties for FireWire.
Publication:Computergram International
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 18, 1999
Words:366
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