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Into the sunset.

Everyone, as Andy Warhol once pointed out, sooner or later gets to be famous--but only for 15 minutes. Warhol's rule also seems to apply to Big Ideas, which briefly stir up lots of excitement and then vanish into obscurity. Consider the following departures:

* Egghead's Project Embryo: To help smaller developers crack the distribution channel, Egghead senior vice president Larry Foster created a high-profile program called "Project Embryo" in 1989. One of Foster's earliest Embryo partners was MECA Software, which used Egghead's advice to fine tune its Home Lawyer and Manager's Organizer titles. "Egghead brought real value to the table," says MECA president Dan Schley. But the following year Foster left Egghead to become president of a software startup, GemSoft, and the program fizzled--or rather, according to an Egghead spokeswoman, it "evolved" into a New Products Group that now screens all new submissions.

* On Demand Systems: By selling dealers a $1,995 CD-ROM kiosk filled with downloadable software, On Demand Systems proposed to abolish inventory overhead and to create more exposure for low-volume volume titles (Soft . letter, 5/1/89). Although On Demand managed to place kiosks in a few hardware-oriented dealer chains, the company never convinced major software resellers that "on demand" disk duplication beats a real box on the shelf. Undiscouraged by this lukewarm reception, On Demand now plans to make a comeback by distributing demos, reviews, and dowloadable software to Fortune 1000 clients.

* The Ingram Best Seller List: Once upon a time, the industry's best-known measure of sales performance was the Softsel Hot List. When Ingram Micro eclipsed Softsel as the top distributor, Ingram's list of 35 best-selling business titles became the new industry yardstick. This February, Ingram quietly scrapped its master best-seller list and now ranks software sales according to 15 different PC and Macintosh applications categories, each of which includes anywhere from five to 20 titles. Officially, Ingram says "We just simply concluded it wasn't fair to have all business software in one primary list." But insiders point out that the new list now enables many more Ingram customers to qualify as "best sellers."
COPYRIGHT 1991 Soft-letter
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:big ideas that vanish into obscurity
Date:Sep 4, 1991
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