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Ashton-Tate Tottering?

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Ashton-Tate has never won the hearts of Macintosh users despite the elegant interface of FullWrite Professional. dBASE Mac was a flop because it wasn't compatible with dBASE III for the PC, and Full Impact, despite some good reviews has never seriously competed with Wingz and Excel. Interesting information about Ashton-Tate came from several sources this week. In Usenet, several people noted the bargain prices on Ashton-Tate products from some mail order houses (including $49 for FullWrite Professional or $99 for FullWrite Professional, Full Impact, and dBASE Mac together). Charitable sorts say that Ashton-Tate is merely trying to unload extra copies of older program versions.

From the trade magazines came news of the ousting of Ashton-Tate Chairman and CEO Ed Esber in favor of ex-IBM executive William Lyons. Ashton-Tate has posted losses each of the last four quarters, although the last two quarters have been better than the previous two, in which Ashton-Tate lost close to forty million dollars total. Add the financial problems to dBASE's declining market share and the shipping problems plaguing dBASE IV 1.1, and you get a company desperately trying to recover its standing.

Although no details were mentioned in the Usenet posting, according to someone at Ashton-Tate, rumors of the company's demise are greatly exaggerated, and several programmers from Ashton-Tate spent time at the recent developer's conference. In addition, Wayne Ratliff, the creator of dBASE, might return to Ashton-Tate in a deal whereby Ashton-Tate would purchase Ratliff's current company, Ratliff Software Productions.

Information from:
Mark Turner -- mark@hpcilzb.HP.COM
Karen J. Norteman -- norteman@gemvax.enet.dec.com
Chuq Von Rospach -- chuq@apple.com

Related articles:
PC WEEK -- 07-May-90, Vol. 7, #18, pg. 1, 6, 137
InfoWorld -- 07-May-90, Vol. 12, #19, pg. 1


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