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osOpinion: The Borland/Inprise 'Dance of Death'

May 01, 2000, 04:27 (9 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tom Nadeau)

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"Recent news reports state that Borland will be bought by Corel. As for Corel, other news articles claim that they are almost out of cash. Corel even claims that if it cannot acquire Borland/Inprise and raid its cash supply, it will be in serious danger. Corel stock is down 50% in just the past three weeks. And why? Because Corel has insisted on stubbornly limiting its target platforms to Windows (where it cannot grow because of Microsoft's power) and Unix (where it cannot grow immediately because of the relatively small demand). Corel simply has to target more platforms to try to build greater overall sales of its products, but they seem to have a phobia about developing outside the limited set of Windows and Unix/Linux platforms."

"What will probably happen in the near future is that Corel will swallow Borland, and then they will in turn be swallowed by someone else. Who could that be? The ideal owner would be IBM. That combination would give IBM entrance to the legal market (WordPerfect's successful niche) as well as make them a player in the Linux desktop application space, where Lotus does not seem interested in moving. By offering both the Lotus and Corel/WordPerfect desktop suites, IBM might be able to provide a large enough selection of applications to become a player on the desktop, a once-cherished goal."

"But even more importantly, IBM would then own the fine stable of software development tools that Borland currently makes. By offering versions of these tools that both reside on, as well as target, a multitude of software platforms (and the Web in particular), IBM could provide the spark that ignites application-development competition in the new business environment caused by a Microsoft breakup or sanctions. This move would bring a lot of old and new software developers out of the woodwork, people who just don't want to develop for the Windows-only market or who simply cannot find the right tools to develop for their platform of choice."

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