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THE BIG BLUE BOOK OF KNOWLEDGE

AFTER ITS SPECTACULAR failures in such PC software as operating systems and word processing, IBM is once again taking on Micro-soft. And in one of Gates & Co.'s strongest markets: the CD-ROM encyclopedia.

On Jan. 6, IBM and World Book Inc. will launch a multimedia version of the 22-volume World Book encyclopedia. In five years, Microsoft's Encarta program has zipped past Groliers and Compton to capture 77% of this $58 million market, says researcher Access Media International. The CD-ROM-encyclopedia realm is small compared with the nearly $1 billion educational-software biz. But analysts say its visibility and prestige make it key to marketing other educational products, where IBM has big plans. IBM is lobbying PC makers to include World Book disks with their machines.

World Book, popular among educators, may be better geared to youngsters than Encarta, with its often technical prose. Another plus for IBM's effort is its lower price--$59.99 (after a $20 rebate). Encarta costs $79. Microsoft says it's not worried.

By Ira Sager
EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT


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Updated June 13, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1996, Bloomberg L.P.
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