NeXT and Businessland Announce Distribution Agreement for NeXT Computer

By Cathy Cook and Allison Thomas
Business Wire

March 30, 1989

Palo Alto, CA -- NeXT Inc., of Palo Alto, Thursday announced that it has signed a major agreement with Businessland for commercial distribution of the NeXT Computer.

Businessland has formed a new division, called Businessland Advanced Systems, that will specialize in integrating NeXT's sophisticated UNIX-based workstation products and other high-end technologies into existing customers' environments.

Specific terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

"The workstation/personal computer market is lining up behind four major operating systems: DOS, OS/2, the Macintosh OS and UNIX," said David Norman, chairman and chief executive of Businessland. "We have already chosen our suppliers for the first three categories; NeXT has now become our UNIX-based advanced workstation offering.

"We believe that the NeXT Computer embodies the characteristics that mainstream computers must possess for the 1990s, and we want to provide our customers access to this future technology today."

This agreement represents NeXT's first entry into a market segment beyond the higher education/developer market targeted at the company's official product introduction on Oct. 12, 1988.

"Our desire to serve the needs of higher education initially prompted us to consider Businessland's proposal," said Steven P. Jobs, president and chairman of NeXT. "Higher education is a superset of all other markets, in that its diverse and demanding requirements provide the ultimate acid test for new technologies and products.

"At the same time, higher education does not exist independently of the rest of the world: Students graduate and professors collaborate with colleagues who work in business and industry," said Jobs.

"This inderdependence convinced us to make NeXT's products available through broader sales and support channels. NeXT's ongoing collaboration with higher education will prove to be a tremendous asset in our partnership with Businessland and its focus on commercial customers," Jobs said.

NeXT anticipates that its highly automated manufacturing facility will be able to meet the product demands from all markets.

NeXT's Focus on Higher Education

NeXT's direct sales force will continue to focus on the higher education market. Its current higher education customers, who represent some of the top colleges and universities in the country, see the NeXT/Businessland partnership as positive for their market.

"For the NeXt Computer to truly serve the needs of higher education, it is imperative that the products be available outside the academic and developer communities," said Ken King, president of EDUCOM.

"Everyone benefits from this new agreement. NeXT gets a ready- made distribution channel to new markets without diluting its energy toward higher education. And wider distribution of the NeXT Computer will encourage greater third-party software development," said King.

"King, formerly vice provost for computing at Cornell University, and a member of NeXT's advisory board, said: "NeXT has enjoyed enthusiastic response to its product from the university community because it has consulted with that community and addressed their needs through a 25-person advisory board.

"This is a major achievement for any business, and NeXT has retained this privileged status because it continues to consult with the university community on new ideas and technologies."

EDUCOM is a non-profit consortium of colleges, universities and other institutions founded in 1964 to facilitate the introduction, use and management of information technology. EDUCOM activities involve 550 institutions and 90 corporations in the United States and abroad. EDUCOM is governed by a membership council and board of trustees, and maintains its offices in Princeton, N.J., and Washington.

The NeXt Computer as a Business Workstation

About one year ago, Businessland began searching for a UNIX- based advanced workstation it could offer in response to the sophisticated needs of its business customers.

"Our criteria for this workstation were based upon a 'UNIX for mere mortals' philosophy. Beyond multitasking, a grapical interface and outstanding communications capabilities, the product must be manufactured to world-class standards for system reliability and have the ability to work with our customers' existing environments," said Kevin R. Compton, Businessland vice president, Advanced Systems.

"We found all these attributes in the NeXT Computer," said Compton.

While NeXT initially emphasized only the higher education applications of its computer, the key technologies can be applied equally well to business settings.

These technologies include a new kind of computer architecture omptimized for high throughput and performance, a graphic-based application development environment, built-in sound capabilities and unprecedented information storage and retrieval capabilities, through the read/write/erasable 256 megabyte optical disk and digital libraries.

"For example, a university professor may take advantage of the digital library for the complete works of Shakespeare on-line, while a business executive may use a digital library that contains the entire 1988 Wall Street Journal. Similarly, the Computer's voice mail application can annotate either grant proposals or business plans," said Dan'l Lewin, vice president of sales and marketing at NeXT.

"This marketing approach makes sense to Businessland, and will be welcomed by its commercial customers," Lewin said.

The NeXT/Businessland Relationship

In addition to fulfilling market demand, NeXT and Businessland share complementary philosophies toward the next decade's computer market.

"We felt it was crucial that Businessland and NeXT share a similar view of the direction of workstations and personal computers in the 1990s," Norman said. "This view anticipates that UNIX will become a mainstream operating system.

"What NeXT has identified, and where it really differs from other makers of UNIX workstations, is that UNIX is merely a foundation for the computer's capabilities, not a final goal in itself. By building its Computer around this fundamental premise, NeXT is poised to create UNIX-based workstation solutions that meet the needs of mainstream users, not just users willing to become experts in UNIX."

Businessland will concentrate on direct sales to large businesses, through the Businessland sales force, while Businessland Advanced Systems will provide systems integration and consultation services. NeXT is currently training the Advanced Systems group, Businessland marketing representatives and training specialists.

Businessland will roll out NeXT products to all its Businessland sales centers starting in May. In addition, owners of NeXT Computers will be able to purchase software through Businessland Direct, the company's catalog mail-order service.

Founded in 1982, Businessland Inc. is the largest company-owned microcomputer reseller in the world. The company integrates microcomputer products from selected manufacturers to create systems tailored to specific customer needs and provides the high-level service and support to maximize their productivity.

Businessland owns and operates centers in 48 major U.S. metropolitan areas, 10 centers in England and one in Canada. It reported sales in excess of $1.1 billion in calendar 1988.

NeXT Inc., of Palo Alto, was founded in October 1985 by Steven P. Jobs, co-founder and former chairman of Apple Computer Inc., and five other individuals. The mission of the privately held company is to collaborate with higher education to develop innovative, personal and affordable computer solutions for the 1990s and beyond.

The company introduced its NeXT Computer in October 1988 for selected customers in the higher education and developer communities.

NOTE TO EDITORS: NeXT and the NeXT logo are trademarks of NeXT Inc. Businessland is a registered trademark of Businessland Inc. UNIX is a registered trademark of AT&T. IBM is a registered trademark of International Business Machines Corp. Macintosh and Apple are registered trademarks of Apple Computer Inc.

Copyright Business Wire 1989