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Acorn rebuffs dealer bid

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Acorn’s relationship with its dealers has hit the rocks following a “sudden, unexpected and unpredictable change in (its) negotiating position”, over attempts to keep the RiscOS alive. The Four Wise Men, members of the Steering Group formed on behalf of the Acorn dealer and developer community, said they had “reluctantly stepped back from negotiations with with Acorn Computers for their Product business, upon learning that Acorn is now negotiating directly with another company from the Netherlands, introduced to Acorn via the Steering Group's agency.” Pile indignity upon indignity, Steering Group members “signed a Memorandum of Understanding which (Acorn CEO) Stan Boland signed for Acorn and which was abruptly abandoned by Acorn a few days later”. Reading between the lines, the Acorn dealers are saving their anger for another day. Until the outcome of the negotiations is settled, at any rate. “The Steering Group regard as a notable achievement the rapid introduction to the scene of another firm, with technical and manufacturing experience and substantial financial backing, which may lead to continuing the Acorn product range.” Substantial financial backing must be the key in Acorn’s considerations. How viable the Steering Group’s plans were on that front we will probably never know. “If the negotiation leads to the sale of Acorn's Workstation Products to another party, the Group will work to convince that party of the value of the recent and imminent Products, and will encourage them to sustain the Dealer and Developer community, so as to sustain the broad Acorn-Using community, with all its enthusiasm, creativity and commitment to RiscOS.” A ringing declaration, but does it actually mean anything in concrete tems ? Steering Group members say that if the new set of negotiations fail, they will “continue to seek an alternative way of bringing Phoebe to market and continuing development of RiscOS”. If these negotiations fail, Phoebe is dead in the water. For customers are not going to hang around all that much longer. Maybe it’s time for more Acorn dealers to plunge into Wintel. Sure, the technology is frustrating. But it’s alive and kicking. ®

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