The smart card units of Group Bull, the French computer company, said they completed their third straight profitable year, producing a record 16 million cards in 1994.
Gerald Hubbard, vice president of marketing for the company's U.S. affiliate, Micro Card Technologies Inc., Vienna, Va., said Bull remains the largest producer of cards with sophisticated microprocessors embedded in the plastic. It claims a world market share of 65%.
Gemplus Group, also of France, was the 1994 leader in total chip cards, at 140 million. But most of those had the simpler type of memory chip for prepaid applications like pay telephones.
Bull stays away from low-end memory cards and will concentrate on high- security, standards-driven market opportunities like the Europay- MasterCard-Visa specifications effort, said Micro Card president Arnaud d'Avezac.
The Bull card companies, in addition to Micro Card, are Bull CP8, SPOM KK, and CP8/Oberthur. Group Bull, which turned a profit last year ($43 million) for the first time since 1989, owns the SPOM (self-programmable chip microprocessor) patent and licenses it to every other microprocessor card manufacturer.