Electronic Data Processing Plc believes its new object-oriented database, UniVision, heavily flagged last year as a super-hot new product, but formally announced only on Friday, is the definitive step in its metamorphosis from hardware distributor to software publishing and services company. UniVision is EDP’s own flavour of Pick Systems Inc’s database, and written in C++, […]
Electronic Data Processing Plc believes its new object-oriented database, UniVision, heavily flagged last year as a super-hot new product, but formally announced only on Friday, is the definitive step in its metamorphosis from hardware distributor to software publishing and services company. UniVision is EDP’s own flavour of Pick Systems Inc’s database, and written in C++, will run under any version of Unix System V.4. Managing director and chief executive Richard Jowitt attests that this is because System V.4 will become the standard, following Novell Inc’s acquisition of Unix Systems Laboratories Inc. The first release will be available from August in the UK and from September in the US on NCR Corp, Data General Corp, ICL Plc and other Univel Inc UnixWare-based boxes.
The Sheffield-based firm also plans to put UniVision up under other environments in the future, including IBM Corp’s RS/6000, Hewlett-Packard Co’s HP 9000 series, Digital Equipment Corp, and Sun Microsystems Inc machines. No timescale was available. Jowitt reckons the product is at the bleeding edge rather than the leading edge. But he feels it is well able to compete with the market leaders – Pick Systems, VMark Software Inc, and Unidata Inc – because at $160 per user, it is one third of the cost. It also comes bundled with EDP’s office automation system and financial modelling package, Compusheet+. And while he doesn’t expect UniVision to make any impact on sales or profit figures this year, he said he would be satisfied if, over the next few years, UniVision mamaged to grab one third of the Pick market – he claims this is worth $50m a year worldwide. For the first six months of its fiscal year, EDP was still bumping along the bottom due to quite fierce competition – turnover was down 1.6% to UKP7.4m due to hardware margins from its distribution business, which have fallen 50% in three years. Pre-tax profits also dropped 2.7% at UKP2.3m as a result of losses at the firm’s recent US acquisitions. Both Via Systems Inc and Object Inc were bought in October last year, and although Jowitt anticipates they will only break even during 1993, he reckons they should move into profit next year. And it is Via that has developed the group’s second new product, Axiom. This is a portable graphical user interface, which EDP plans to use as a front-end for UniVision. Axiom can also be used as a stand-alone product on competitors’ Pick offerings to give applications the look-and-feel of Microsoft Corp’s Windows, Apple Computer Inc’s Macintosh, as well as the Motif, Open Look and X Window front ends to Unix. Despite all this innovation, the company still generates approximately 40% of its revenues from distributing Applied Digital Data Systems Inc’s Mentor range of Pick-under-Unix boxes. Hauppauge, New York-based Applied Digital is an NCR company, which is in turn owned by AT&T Co. Conversely, Jowitt said, the group made UKP4.5m in service revenues from both its Onsite terminal renting business, and licence renewals for its Merchant wholesale distribution package. While EDP may have turned in very flat results, Jowitt considers they are most satisfactory in view of the continuing depressed state of the economy and is confident of acceptable figures at the year end.