SCO Group unveils new links for computers

Published February 28, 2006 12:01 am
Utah company: The focus is on merging desktop, laptop and hand-held devices
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Utah's SCO Group - eager to show it has more going on than its big-ticket, Linux-related lawsuits - on Monday unveiled a family of applications and services targeting the burgeoning mobile communications markets.

SCO heralded its EdgeClick platform for seamlessly merging desktop and laptop computers, as well as cellular smartphones, PDAs and hand-held computers into digital and wireless Internet communities for business and collaboration.

The Lindon-based software company also launched EdgeClickPark.com, an Internet portal designed to function as a cyber-ecosystem for EdgeClick developers, partners, third-party innovators, sales representatives and product end users alike.

Tim Negris, SCO's executive vice president of marketing and sales, told a teleconference that his company envisions EdgeClick opening the door to "individuals and organizations of all kinds to participate in developing, selling and using digital services."

Negris was especially excited about the popularity of smartphones - cellular units that offer Internet browsing, live video and chat functions, as well as digital cameras and music players, in one package.

"Adoption rates of these devices is expected to continue growing rapidly. As this happens, the business opportunities for EdgeClick . . . will expand to an even greater extent," he said.

The company remains best known for its ongoing, 3-year-old $5 billion federal lawsuit against IBM. SCO charges Big Blue is responsible for SCO's proprietary Unix code being illegally imported into versions of the freely distributed Linux operating system.

Monday's news conference is the latest high-profile effort by SCO to rebuild its markets for Unix and other product lines, which some critics say had been neglected with the March 2003 filing of the IBM suit in Salt Lake City's U.S. District Court. SCO, a year or more away from trial in the case, also is embroiled in Linux-related litigation with Novell, RedHat and Autozone.

Along with its highly publicized release earlier this year of a major upgrade to its OpenServer line, Monday's teleconference was seen as an effort to shift investor and client focus away from SCO's courtroom battles.

However, analyst Rob Enderle said it was unlikely that strategy will work, not with the tens of millions of dollars the tiny company has already spent on its bid to collect on alleged Unix-Linux copyright and licensing issues.

"Because the litigation has become so much of what they are, the lawsuits tend to eclipse anything else they try to do," Enderle said. "And if it goes bad for them with IBM, I doubt anything they do with software will be able to save them."

Company executives were eager to point to the future. Andy Nagle, SCO's product manager for digital services, said the new services already have had successful beta tests. One, involving the company's new Shout service, allows groups made up of Web-enabled desktop and laptop PCs and smartphones to receive instant text and audio messages.

"The Utah Jazz used the Shout service to record message from a player and within seconds it went out," Nagle said. "Fans got the news ahead of noon news reports."

Shout is part of SCO's Me Inc. product, along with Vote - a fast mobile polling service that lets users gather and publish opinions from any number of people at any time, from anywhere.

Provo Mayor Lewis Billings and Tom Holmoe, Brigham Young University athletic director, are among the earliest Me Inc. subscribers.

Billings says he intends to use the service "continually throughout my term as it dramatically enhances my ability to personally reach constituents."

Added Holmoe: "We have been able to use Me Inc. in football, women's volleyball, women's soccer, and women's cross country and track, and we plan on using Me Inc. in every BYU sport [in the future]."


SCO Group timeline

* Caldera, a Utah Linux developer, buys the Unix operations of the Santa Cruz Operation, or SCO. August 2000.

* Caldera changes its name to the SCO Group, refocusing its attention on its Unix product line. August 2002.

* News leaks out that SCO is planning to sue Linux vendors for using Unix code in their product releases. January 2003.

* SCO files suit against IBM for misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract regarding Unix and Big Blue's Linux applications. March 2003.

* SCO sends letters to 1,500 corporate Linux users threatening litigation if they continue to use the operating system. SCO later offers licenses to users to avoid lawsuits. Novell issues statement contending its earlier sale of Unix to a SCO predecessor did not give SCO full ownership. May 2003

* Leading Linux distributor RedHat sues SCO in a preemptory strike, challenging its claims on Linux. IBM files its own federal countersuit against SCO, claiming the Utah company has violated IBM patents. August 2003.

* SCO sues Novell for slander of title, stemming from Novell's public statements challenging Unix ownership. January 2004

* SCO sues AutoZone and DaimlerChrysler for using Linux. March 2004.

* A Michigan judge dismisses SCO's lawsuit against DaimlerChrysler. July 2004.

* U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball denies SCO's third attempt to amend its suit against IBM, setting a Feb. 26, 2007, date for a trial in Salt Lake City. July 2005.

* SCO CEO Darl McBride tells customers in Las Vegas that the company is shifting focus to developing new Unix products. In succeeding months, the company issues two upgrades to its flagship OpenServer suit. August 2005.

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