SCO unveils products, services to offset earnings, court setbacks

Published August 8, 2006 12:00 am
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Utah's SCO Group sought to dispel the pall of recent courtroom and financial setbacks by unveiling a slew of partnerships, products and services Monday.

"Today is a big day for SCO," said President and CEO Darl McBride. "This marks the full turning point for the company going forward."

Whether SCO's Monday product and services blitz can offset fallout from poor earnings results and a recent federal court ruling gutting the company's $5 billion, Linux-related lawsuit against IBM remains to be seen, observers said.

From Las Vegas, where the annual SCO Forum was under way, the Lindon-based software company announced it will team with Day-Timer Inc. to develop, market and support a suite of mobile data applications.

The service, dubbed DT4, will extend time management, calendaring and task management to Day-Timer's customers based on SCO's Me Inc.-brand services. "We anticipate DT4 to be the next killer application for mobile phones," McBride said.

The market potential is there, according to the In-Stat Group. The communications research firm predicts that wireless handset sales will grow steadily over the next five years. Already, the sector generates more than 2 billion unit sales and $300 billion a year.

Ed Bjorncrantz, vice president for Day-Timer direct marketing, said the DT4 applications are varied enough to claim "a competitive advantage and . . . a new market of its own."

Day-Timer and SCO expect to market the DT4 products through their retail and Internet channels by year's end.

SCO also announced development of HipCheck, a mobile service designed to help system administrators monitor while out of the office UNIX- and Windows-based computer network servers, as well as desktop clients.

HipCheck, another Me.Inc service expected to debut in the fourth quarter, will provide clients with alerts and the ability to perform tasks remotely to their systems through their Windows Mobile smartphone or Windows PC.

SCO also announced it will provide its mobile applications toolkit as a plug-in for Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 users.

As for the upcoming February 2007 trial of its IBM suit, in which SCO alleges its proprietary Unix code was illegally released into the freely distributed Linux operating system, McBride insisted: "We believe strongly in our case. . . . We're going to have our day in court."

Further, McBride said he was optimistic about improving earnings, predicting SCO's critically acclaimed OpenServer 6 and other products would take hold and revive sagging revenues.

Investors liked the news, driving SCO stock to a $2.85 per share close, up 63 cents. But industry analysts were mixed in their opinions.

Bill Hughes, principal analyst for In-Stat, was undecided on the impact of the Day-Timer and Palm announcements but saw the HipCheck product as "particularly promising. It is just the kind of application that, once installed, users cannot imagine having worked so long without."

Ken Dulaney, vice president for mobile computing for Gartner Research, was less impressed.

"This has all been done before," he said. "They need to do this, though, and they need a lot more [devices and services] than just these."


SCO's announcements:

* Partnership with Day-Timer to provide mobile planning services

* New "HipCheck" remote monitoring service for computer system administrators

* SCO mobile applications to work on new Palm 700 line of smartphones

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