The Apricot Computers brand is to be resurrected by British consumer electronics manufacturer Elonex, CRN can reveal.
Elonex plans to launch a range of Apricot-branded Windows notebooks and tablets next year after buying the global rights to the iconic British brand, which battled with Apple and IBM for UK PC market supremacy in the mid-1980s.
Talking to CRN, Elonex chief executive Nick Smith claimed Apricot is the only brand capable of "putting the byte back into Apple".
"It has that Apple quality and feel and a pedigree behind it but [the devices] will all run on Microsoft," Smith said.
Under-40s may not be familiar with the brand, Smith admitted. "But once people delve into it, they will realise these guys were around and bigger than Apple in their day," he added.
Elonex will attempt to differentiate Apricot by offering global roaming for £100 a year, which Smith said would resonate with business users and parents of students looking to control budgets. All the notebooks and tablets will run on Windows and will feature embedded 3G or 4G SIMs.
Following its 1980s heyday, Apricot was bought by Mitsubishi in 1990 before Mitsubishi closed it down in 1999.
The Apricot brand made a comeback in the netbook space in 2008 but Companies House indicates the outfit behind it was dissolved in 2012.
Although Elonex acquired the rights to the brand from some French intellectual property attorneys in October 2012, Smith said his firm had held off relaunching until UK market conditions stabilised. The first machines – which will be assembled in the Far East – are set to be shipped through UK retailers in Q4 2015.
"It's 12 to 14 months away but we have a whole team working on it," Smith said, adding that his firm is in the process of seeking out launch partners.
The Apricot relaunch will mark Elonex's re-entry into a consumer electronics market it was forced to flee a couple of years ago in the face of savage market conditions. Back in 2010, Elonex held a seven per cent share of the UK tablet market, but it was forced to give up the ghost in the wake of intense competition from global A brands.
In the meantime, the Midlands-based firm has been focusing on making B2B tablets, advertising kiosks and roadside LED installations.
"Although we're not currently selling consumer electronics, we are still a consumer electronics brand and are getting ready to re-enter the market," Smith explained. "With the state of the retail market, we weren't getting paid and retailers were going under and we've been waiting for the retail market to stabilise before we relaunched the [Apricot] product."
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