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Mac Execs Face Corporate Customers

August 6, 1996

BOSTON (AP) _ On the eve of the largest Macintosh computer trade show, Apple Computer Inc. executives on Tuesday faced criticism from large corporate customers and pledged better service.

The company is trying to shed its image as the Peter Pan of Silicon Valley, a company that never grew up, and preserve the faith of its biggest buyers.

Chief operating officer Marco Landi and other Apple executives showed off new software and promised improved services. The meeting with corporate customers was a prelude to the annual MacWorld Expo, which begins Wednesday and will draw 50,000 Apple customers.

Chief executive officer Gilbert F. Amelio will give a keynote speech, followed by a presentation from Netscape Communications Corp. CEO James Barksdale and vice president Marc Andreessen. Netscape is the leading developer of software for producing and finding data on the World Wide Web.

Apple will use the convention to bring more attention to its Internet-related products.

Already, the company offers a product called ``Cyberdog,″ which builds Internet access directly into the main operating system of the Macintosh. Web sites and e-mail are accessible directly from the main interface using browser software from Netscape, Microsoft and Apple.

James S. Gable, a marketing vice president, acknowledged the company has made mistakes in the past year with delayed releases of operating systems and hardware. ``But we’re trying to support the Mac to keep the faith alive,″ he said.

Jeff Cipollini, a Macintosh support specialists at Draper Laboratories, said his company was trying to remain loyal to Apple. But he said, ``I haven’t seen a warm body from Apple in 2 1/2 months.″

Landi pledged 600 employees would be made available to personally visit clients.

Burdened with higher operating costs than other personal computer makers, Apple has also hurt itself lax controls in spending, a unwieldy product variety and poor communication with customers.

Under pressure from shareholders and with takeover rumors swirling, the company’s directors in February replaced chief executive Michael Spindler with Amelio.

Apple last month reported a loss of $32 million for the April-June quarter, far less than the $200 million some forecasters had predicted. The company’s performance was helped by steady purchasing among corporate customers while purchases of Macintoshes by consumers fell sharply.

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