SCO Group Inc is looking to emulate Apple Computer Inc’s success with the iTunes Music Store, according to CEO, Darl McBride, as it attempts to rejuvenate its Unix operating system business via SCO Marketplace.
The Lindon, Utah-based Unix vendor is perhaps better known for its legal claims against IBM Corp and Linux, but it has a core installed base of OpenServer and UnixWare vendors that it wants to at least maintain if it is to have a future beyond its legal claims.
With SCO Marketplace, the first phase is to get new developers in, and phase two is to create an iTunes for business applications market place, if you will, McBride told ComputerWire. The second layer to growth is the new application layer.
Alluding to the way Apple responded to the problem of music file-sharing by launching a cheap and easily accessible legal market place, he said: We believe there’s a corollary there, an open model for a bigger distribution engine for online applications, following the lead that Apple set in the music business.
SCO is not the first software vendor to look to emulate Apple’s iTunes success. In February, the CEO of Adobe Systems Inc, Bruce Chizen, said the company was considering launching the equivalent of Apple’s iTunes, but for digital imaging.
SCO Marketplace was first launched at SCO’s Forum event in August as a new developer program through which SCO will pay developers outside of the company to work on improvements to the OpenServer and UnixWare platforms. Details are still being finalized about how that will work and how developers will be remunerated, but the company is sure about what sort of applications it is looking for.
We’re in the process of getting ideas about how you take business applications and take them into the future with internet-based applications rather than client/server, said McBride. It’s an incubator to extend the business logic into internet-based platforms. Most people don’t want an ASP-only application. You need to blend the two together, what’s running on-site and how do you extend to the Internet?
SCO Marketplace is part of a bigger push to rejuvenate demand for SCO’s Unix operating system, which McBride admitted has been hit by its legal wrangling. In its most recent quarter, revenue from Unix products was $10.5 million, compared to $12.8 million a year ago. McBride said he hopes the figure will now stabilize, giving SCO a base to build on.
Until we’ve gone through multiple quarters [of stabilizing Unix revenue], it’s hard to say, but hopefully it won’t be a dramatic drop-off, he said. We do feel as we go into a new fiscal year that we have a chance for a full year of profitability from the core Unix business.
We have a core group of customers that are extremely loyal and are ambivalent to the lawsuit, he added, downplaying the impact SCO’s litigation has had on demand. The business was in decline long before the lawsuits.
While Linux has grabbed much of the market for x86 Unix, it is SCO’s belief that the open source operating system has had an unfair advantage by making use of SCO’s intellectual property.
Whether this is the case or not will be decided by the US courts, but in the meantime SCO will look to at least retain its Unix installed base with Legend, the next version of its OpenServer edge of network operating system, which is now in beta and due for release in the first quarter. We believe some of the features in Legend will be of enough value that some customers will say ‘let’s go upgrade’, he said.
The UnixWare enterprise operating system has already been updated this year, and the company is looking forward to merging the two code bases through Project Diamond, which is expected to produce results in the first half of 2006.
Project Diamond will be a single code base that will support both 32-bit and 64-bit applications on Intel Corp and Advanced Micro Devices Inc’s extended x86 processors and will feature System V Release 6 of the core Unix code base. The technology is not expected to enter beta until the fourth quarter of 2005, however.
The company, or at least its Santa Cruz Operation Inc predecessor, has tried to merge OpenServer and UnixWare before without the results catching on with the loyal OpenServer crowd. UnixWare 7 was more of an amalgamation, said McBride. The core OpenServer users were being asked to entirely switch to a new platform. This is a more user-friendly combination.