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Ingram Micro Launches New Sales Method : Technology: Retailers will receive 500,000 compact disks to give to customers, who can use them to view programs they may wish to purchase.

April 27, 1993|JAMES S. GRANELLI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — Ingram Micro Inc., in an effort to reach a growing segment of the computer market, unveiled on Monday a new method to distribute software products.

The Santa Ana computer products distributor said it soon will start shipping to retailers 500,000 compact disks packed with programs. Merchants are expected to give them away to computer customers who have the hardware to use them.

Ingram said that the CD-ROMs are both advertising tools and sales products that will be made and marketed as CD Access by a newly created division, Ingram Micro Technology Services.

Customers with CD-ROM drives can use the compact disk to view demonstrations of as many as 200 specially encoded software programs from Windows to a variety of games. If the customers find ones they like, they can buy the programs by obtaining decoding instructions from Ingram and copying the programs into their computers.

CD-ROM, which stands for compact disk read-only memory, is the same size as a typical audio compact disk and usually contains 650 megabytes of information--more than the Encyclopedia Brittanica or 900 volumes of the world's greatest literature.

Ingram Micro is the world's largest distributor of software products, marketing such brand names as Microsoft, Lotus and Adobe. It expects to include programs from those brands on its new compact disks.

More manufacturers are installing CD-ROM drives routinely in their computers, said Robert Grambo, an Ingram marketing vice president. About 4 million computer users have CD-ROM drives now, he said, and that number will probably double in two years.

"This new medium for distributing software is very exciting and uses a sexy technology," Grambo said, "but if you take it down to its nuts and bolts, it's just another way to get software in the hands of customers."

"We're the first to formally announce this method of distribution," Grambo said, "but the technology and the method is not something we created. There will be many players in this arena in the near future."

Joining Ingram Micro on the CD Access project are Rainbow Technologies Inc., an Irvine company that will provide the coding to protect the software programs from being "stolen" from the compact disks; and Adobe Systems Inc., a Mountain View company that will provide a "search and retrieval" mechanism that customers will use to select the program demonstration they want to view.

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