Franklin Bookman Uses Intuit Platform

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Looking to tap an installed base of 7 million Quicken software users, Franklin Electronic Publishers begins shipping this week its first Bookman electronic book with a dedicated Pocket Quicken platform.[text]The device, model PQN-460, is said to offer Quicken users an affordable and practical handheld input tool device for personal and business financial expense data. It comes bundled with a PC-link system for both Windows and Mac operating systems to allow updating desktop Quicken databases with information registered on the go.

The product is expected to sell in most Franklin retail outlets for around $99. Intuit, developer of the Quicken software programs, will also market the product direct to registered Quicken users for $99, the company said.

The Bookman product will be compatible with Intuit's latest version of its popular desktop financial tracking software. The software developer unveiled last month its new Quicken for 96 system and a suite of "tightly integrated" financial add-ons, all of which focus on new online functionality.

With the core Quicken 96 system users will be able to send checks electronically to participating financial institutions, receive up-to-the-minute information on bank balances, and make account transfers from a desktop PC.

A new related investment tracking application, called Investor Insight, will be offered on Quicken Deluxe for Windows to provide online access to Wall Street Journal news and the Dow Jones news services. Users can monitor past and current performance of specified stocks.

Quicken for 96 will be available to retailers October 26 on diskettes in regular ($39.99 list) and Deluxe ($59.99 list) and as a Deluxe version on CD-ROM for Windows. For Mac the regular package will ship on diskettes and as Deluxe on CD-ROM. A Financial Suite ($79.99 list) will also be available.

Intuit said it will also offer limited rebates of $5 for regular Quicken and $10 for Quicken Deluxe. Financial institutions will determine service fees for online banking and bill payment.

Intuit also plans to make online bill payment available to customers who do not bank at partner institutions. Intuit service fees will run $5.95 per month for up to 20 payments and $2.95 for the next 10 payments, the company said.

Fees for Investor Insight are $9.95 a month to track up to 10 stocks, or $19.95 a month for up to 50 stocks. Intuit is offering Investor Insight free for one month as an introductory offer.

Meanwhile, the new Franklin Bookman product will be equipped with two slots to accommodate any of the add-on cards from the Bookman title library. The Pocket Quicken unit will accept the new Sidekick personal organizer card developed by Starfish, giving the product a variety of mobile data organizational functions at a low cost.

Sherri Meade, Franklin software development director, said the Pocket Quicken unit incorporates 128K of flash memory to ensure data integrity. Combined with Franklin's data-compression technology, the unit is expected to store between 300 and 500 checks worth of data, she said.

The pocket-size device weighs 4.5 ounces and runs on two AAA batteries. Meade said the product will be sold through traditional Bookman dealers, and will be available to software, and computer stores.

Both Intuit and Franklin are banking on the new Bookman product opening the doors to the mass market for the first time to the Pocket Quicken program.

The program has been included in a variety of Personal Digital Assistant and palmtop PC devices including the Geos-based "Zoomer" products, Hewlett-Packard's HP-200LX palmtop, and Sony's Magic Link running the Magic Cap operating system. But thus far, PDAs, which are more expensive and tricky to learn, remain niche business devices.

"What we see in this device is not really direct competition with the PDA market," said Teri Clayton, Intuit product marketing manager. "When a shakeout occurs, because Pocket Quicken is the standard, we will be on the right PDA, but independent of that, we are after a whole new market because of where the price point is at and because of the way the Bookman product line is oriented. So, we don't see that having an impact on the success of this device."

Although the initial target audience for the Bookman Pocket Quicken tool will come from the existing installed base of Quicken users, both companies see the audience broadening.

"I expect a majority of the people will be PC users -- maybe 60% to 70% -- but I think there are a lot of people out there who will find this so easy to use and so convenient that it will have an appeal by itself," said Clayton.

Franklin's Meade agreed: "We designed it to have enough functionality in its own right to be very powerful as a stand-alone too."

Cincinnati Microwave Launches Promo Program For SureLink

To make consumers aware of the advantages of the digital spread spectrum technology in its 900MHz cordless phones, Cincinnati Micro-wave is launching a campaign to promote its own direct-sequence technology, called SureLink.

The campaign involves the use of the SureLink logo on Cincinnati Micro-wave's Escort brand phones as well as on many of the phones it supplies to companies such as Southwestern Bell and Cobra.

"The logo is being added to packaging and promotions, and we are developing consumer merchandising," says Greg Blair, Cincinnati Microwave VP of product planning and program management.

A SureLink trade media and consumer advertising campaign is set to begin in October, and point-of-sale materials will appear in stores soon after that, Blair says. The campaign is designed to distinguish CM's direct-sequence technology from the frequency-hopping type.

"SureLink will get the high-performance, high-security message out to retailers and end users," states Lu Ann Paletta, product manager, Southwestern Bell Freedom Phone Retail Sales.

Casio's BOSS Organizer Is First With Color Screen

By Amy Gilroy

Casio is rolling out the industry's first color-screen BOSS electronic organizers beginning this month, and the company hopes to convert over half of its lineup to color LCD screens by the end of next year, according to a spokesman.

The new color entries offer a red, green and blue LCD screen to allow users to highlight calendar entries or to color-code name entries for easier viewing.

The first color model, a 128K organizer called the CSF 7950, began shipping in September at a list price of $249. It will be joined in October by four additional color organizers, including Casio's first pen-based BOSS units, the company said.

The first color organizer, the CSF 7950 is similar to the model 7900, but it adds a built-in demo mode to allow salespeople to demonstrate functions to customers in addition to the new color screen.

The CSF 7950 offers the typical functions of telephone and address book, calendar, scheduler and calculator and is PC link compatible at a suggested list price of $249. This compares to the non-color 7900, which carries a list price of $189.

The new pen-based models, the NX 4000 128K and the NX 6000 256K are similar to the 7950 but allow pen input. The units do not offer handwriting recognition but are designed for scribbling notes.

They also incorporate a pop-up keyboard and will carry suggested list prices of $199.95 for the NX 4000 and $299.95 for the NX 6000.

Also shipping with color screens will be two BOSS units with smaller, four-line by 16-character screens -- the 64K model 4650 and the 128K 4950 at list prices of $109.95 and $159.95, respectively. Both are based on the current model 4000, said Casio.

VTech Shipping $129 Analog 900MHz Phone

Beaverton, Ore.-

based VTech has recently begun shipping its first analog 900MHz cordless phone, the 900 adl, at a suggested retail price of $129. It features a new smaller handset, built-in battery charger, 10-number speed dialing, low battery and out-of-range indicators, flash, redial and four programmable rings.

"This model will take the 900MHz market from 2 million units in 1995, to 3 or 4 million in the next 12 months," says VTech president Steve Johnson.

Franklin's new Bookman device with a dedicated Pocket Quicken platform is selling this month at a $99 retail.

Cincinnati Microwave's SureLink logo

Casio's CSF7950 organizer is the industry's first model with a color LCD screen.

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