Halla under fire at National

Halla under fire at National
David Manners Brian Halla’s reign at National Semiconductor is under scrutiny following a net loss of $98.6m for the full year and a cutback in the R&D budget. National blamed the figures on poor markets for computer chips and LAN products. Critics have said that difficulties in getting new versions of Cyrix microprocessors into the market have led to 70 per cent of National’s R&D funds going to Cyrix, with consequent cuts in R&D for the communications and analogue businesses. “All the management focus is on the single-chip PC and one wonders what impact that has on their traditional products where the bulk of their revenue stream is coming from,” reckons Joe D’Elia, top analyst at Dataquest. “They missed the boat in getting their microprocessors onto 0.25?m in a speedy fashion – they’ve been stuck at 233MHz for some time. Historically IBM has done better at selling the products than Cyrix. There have been quite a few times when Cyrix has won the design-in, and then IBM has gone in and picked up the order.” Malcolm Penn, chairman of Future Horizons, commented: “They put all their eggs in this Network PC market and it’s just not taking off. It’s a repeat of the digital watch fiasco.” Critics point to National’s loss of a dominant position in the LAN chip market when it jacked up prices only to see 3Com take over the market with an Asic supplied by LSI Logic, which undercut National’s pricing. According to rumours, the wireless group asked to be spun-off as a separate company. Others suggest that former National president Charlie Sporck may return to address the company’s problems. See InsideView


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