December 23, 1997 4:30 AM PST

Apple cybercafe plan shelved

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Apple Computer's (AAPL) ballyhooed plans to team up with a group to launch Apple "cybercafes" globally, starting with Los Angeles late this year, quietly have been shelved, an Apple spokeswoman confirmed.

The decision to freeze the project actually was made months ago, she said, but it was not publicized. A Web site promoting the Apple Cafes as "coming soon" remained live until this weekend; it was taken down to avoid any further confusion among would-be customers.

A year ago, Apple, Landmark Entertainment Group, and Mega Bytes International teamed up to announce the plans. The cybercafes would have let users surf the Net, play games, and design Web pages along with offering the features of a full-service cafe. They also were going to sell consumer products with Apple logos.

The cybercafes were part of Apple's plans to license its well-known brand name and promote its PCs. The company was supposed to receive royalty fees in the deal.

Cybercafes, such as Cybersmith, are catching on, as more consumers log on to the Net. Cybersmith, for example, runs two cybercafes in the Boston area, one in White Plains, New York, and one in Silicon Valley. Many independent cybercafes are thriving as well.

The Apple cafes were slated for London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, and Sydney, Australia, along with the 15,000-square-foot facility in Los Angeles.

An Apple spokeswoman said the decision to put the project on hold was not Apple's, but rather came from its business partners in the deal. She stressed that Apple's role only was that of a licensor. "We think it's a great project, and we'd like to move forward," said a spokeswoman for Landmark Entertainment, which was to design the cafes. Spokespeople for Mega Bytes International, a U.K-based real estate company, could not be reached for comment.

The Apple spokeswoman said the concept of launching the cafes remains a possibility down the road. "If somebody approaches us again, we'll be happy to consider it," she said. "It just didn't work out with this group in particular."

The domain name "applecafe.com" is still registered to Apple.

 

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