Firms join to build notebooks

Umax Data Systems, together with Sotec, will produce notebook computers running the Mac OS and perhaps Windows.

Umax Data Systems, the Taiwan-based parent company of Mac clonemaker Umax Computer, will join forces with Japan's Sotec to produce notebook computers.

Sotec, a developer of IBM-compatible notebook computers, will help Umax Data Systems develop portables that run "multiple basic operating systems," according to a report in the Nikkei English News.

Earlier in May, Umax said it would produce a Mac OS notebook based on the Common Hardware Reference Platform (CHRP) specification since Apple doesn't license PowerBook designs. Umax, which makes desktop computers based on the Windows operating system, may also make Intel-based PC notebooks but revealed no such plans.

The Common Hardware Reference Design, now referred to as the PowerPC Platform specification (PPCP), is intended to provide an open standard for PowerPC system designs that use industry-standard components.

Sotec will provide Umax with the specialized technology needed to produce notebooks, while Umax will oversee production, the report says.

Umax Computer, based in the United States, has expressed an interest in developing and selling a PowerBook clone, but said that it is not likely to have a product ready until 1998. Officials were not available for comment on the new partnership agreement with Sotec.

In addition to notebook engineering expertise, Umax Data Systems will gain a 3.1 percent share in Sotec and convertible bonds which could increase Umax's interest to 5.4 percent, the report said.