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Graphics pioneer Hercules quits market

Too crowded, says owner Guillemot

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The once-famous Hercules graphics card brand is to disappear once more. Guillemot, the company that acquired Hercules back in 1999, said today it is pulling out of the "crowded" 3D graphics card market.

It is also exiting from the LCD monitor business, the company said.

Guillemot blamed the move on the "very weak gross margins" it has been achieving of late in both markets.

Formed in 1982, Hercules was one of the pioneers of the graphics card market. But over a decade latter it ran into trouble and was snapped up by PC peripherals company ELSA in August 1998 for a mere $8.5m. The whole shebang went bankrupt the following year, and Guillemot stepped into to acquire Hercules for a mere $1.5m.

Guillemot leveraged the brand name to ship modern cards based not Hercules own technology but on parts from Nvidia - one of the companies that had out evolved Hercules in the first place. It also offer boards based on ATI graphics chips.

The Hercules brand will not vanish entirely. Guillemot was at pains to point out that there are still plenty of Hercules graphics cards out there that it would very much like to see sold. It pledged to maintain technical support for the products, which come with a three-year warranty.

And while the brand will ultimately cease to be attached to graphics cards, Guillemot plans to use the Hercules name to promote audio and video editing tools and for as yet unannounced, future products - "some using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology", it hints.

So having had enough of one crowded market, Guillemot is preparing to enter another.

"It makes perfect sense for Guillemot to put its resources into areas where we can offer fresh and exciting products which yield higher and more stable profit margins," said Hercules' UK and Ireland chief, says PJ Fletcher. ®

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