SOFTBANK'S COMDEX DEBUT

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A reporter's-eye view of the 100,000-person Comdex/Spring '95 show in Atlanta.

New owner, returning management: Comdex/Spring '95 cut the ribbon last week in Atlanta with a new owner. Softbank Comdex now runs the show under Softbank Chairman Masayoshi Son. Opening the exposition, Mr. Son said: "In today's information society, we want to be your most important resource ....At Comdex, the one thing more important than the technology is the customer." Management, from previous owner Interface Group, remains in place; Jason Chadnofsky is president-CEO. Exhibitors and attendees seemed willing to wait to see how Softbank Comdex addresses concerns about the huge trade show.

Geeks vs. freaks: You couldn't miss this one, assuming you were in a car and in Atlanta the Saturday or Sunday before Comdex. Black college students came to town to celebrate Freaknik '95, the annual rites of spring, in classic style with a modern twist. In addition to the usual bacchanalia, there was cruising-in your car, up and down, dancing through intersections. Traffic lights? What traffic lights?

Novell's going consumer: Novell announced a new brand, PerfectHome, to introduce the Orem, Utah-based company to the home-based consumer software market, currently the fastest-growing software category. According to Jeff Mallett, VP-general manager of the Novell Consumer Division, the brand will start rolling out during the next 90 days.

Novell's going international: Novell also announced a long-term partnership with Bertelsmann's BMG Interactive Entertainment division, which will provide channels for distribution, marketing and sales for Novell's consumer line in Europe, Latin America and the Asia Pacific. First product on the market? A CD-ROM-"Hard Evidence: The Marilyn Monroe Files."

PowerDrive2: Panasonic Communications & Systems Co., Secaucus, N.J., is breaking a less than $1 million print campaign this month to support its new PowerDrive2, a combination rewritable optical disk and CD-ROM drive. Creative is from Gianetto & Meredith, Short Hills, N.J. Media buying is handled in-house.

Bill said it's true: Windows 95 will ship in August at a cost to current users of less than $100 to upgrade.

Chuck Paustian of Business Marketing contributed to this story.

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