Software Plays Hardball

Just as competitive as personal-computer makers are the feisty independent companies that write the software for the machines. The programming firms, only frail upstarts not long ago, now constitute a $3.3 billion U.S. industry whose creative output is the lifeblood of the computer business. Last week two major hardware manufacturers, IBM and Apple, announced major moves that could have an impact on the balance of competitive power in the bruising software business. Apple said it will create a new programming company, to be financed with some of the manufacturer's $700 million cash hoard, while IBM announced a ten-year alliance with Lotus...

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