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Home: Development: Papers

Borland is back .com

Marco's report on Inprise Corporation spawning the borland.com division

Written on February 2nd, 1999.
[Author Notes added on April 26th]

Borland is back! Yes, this is true. As you can read on Inprise web site the company has decided to spawn two separate units, the Inprise unit and the borland.com unit. So after merging the two companies less than a year ago, we've back to the beginning. (See my comment on the name change back in April 98.)

The two units

  • The Inprise unit is devoted to the solving the business needs of large corporations, selling and consulting with CORBA and the Inprise Application Server solutions, Enterprise JavaBeans and all the like.
  • The borland.com unit is the good old Borland, selling products for developers: Delphi, C++Builder, JBuilder and the InterBase server. More over this company is supposed to build a brand new developer's web site, a kind of Developer's Web Portal. They are supposed to sell online not only their own products but also selected third party tools. More will come, as the new web site (www.borland.com) is still quite simple... [Author comment: After a few months there is a little movement, including online sales for US and a few interesting initialives, but nothing really astonishing.]

More news

There are actually a few extra news, a little less obvious and I've partially inferred from other news (so it might actually prove to be wrong):
  • Visual dBase is dead! This hasn't been announced but it not on the product list of either companies... [Author comment: Actually, after a few days, Borland sold it to an independent company.]
  • Sales of developer's tool are sluggish... If the last year CORBA tools have done great increasing the percentage of revenues by quite a lot, the client/server tool have remained at the same level and the low-end developer's tools have decreased by far. If the total revenues of Inprise have slightly declined (For the fourth quarter, the Company reported net revenues of $48.1 million, a decrease of 3 percent), so I fear the developer's tools are really selling much less (which might explain the decision to devote a specific business unit to them). My opinion is that the release of a buggy Delphi 4 contributed to this situation quite a lot, but I don't have any real insider information... [Author comment: Actually the company is not doing very well on sales...]
  • Inprise is moving: the Inprise unit will be located in San Mateo, where Visigenic used to be. Borland.com will remain in Scotts Valley, but probably not in the current mega-building, which is supposedly on sale. [Author comment: Apparently this was not the case... Borland is still in its headquarters]
  • Work force reduction. The two companies will have a reduced head count (approximately 20 percent) compared to the current Inprise.
  • The InterBase Corporation will actually disappear and become part of borland.com (again, this hasn't been explicitly announced). [Author comment: this actually happened: the Interbase server is now sold by Borland.com, although they have their own own site and structure.]

My Opinions

What's my take on all of this? I'm basically very happy, as I was starting to worry for the future of the developer's tools, as Delphi, in the corporate-oriented Inprise. Also, Inprise seems to be very keen on Java, while Delphi remains a Windows development tool, which should be as integrated as possible with the Microsoft offerings. There are however, positive and negative things...

Negatives

  • Hopefully the .com is not only a way to ride the Web wave and rise the value of the stocks. I have no problem with this, if the site also provides real value to us developer's (which means Borland invests money on it). On the contrary this might be only a face lift for investors...
  • Smaller companies, easier acquisition targets. This might be a pure speculation, but there might be companies interested in working with (and eventually buying) either the Inprise of the borland.com units, and not both of them... This is technically not precise, as the ownership (Inprise Corporation) has not changed...
  • It this a strategic move, or jet another let's try this one? Less then one year after the merger with Visigenic and the name change, seems Inprise management is saying: we got it wrong. Hopefully they know what they are doing, now. [Author comment: I was commenting, not officially, that when a manager makes such a big mistake as integrating two companies and then splitting them again, he shuold resign. Somehow this happends, as Del Yocam is not Borland CEO anymore.]
  • Some people will loose their job at the company. This is definitely not a good sign, let's hope the number of developer's on our preferred tools won't be reduced!

    Positives

  • Borland.com has the potential of becoming a huge web site, with offering of third party tools, technical news groups, support service (paid), possibly a developer's CD, and everything else. [Author comment: Since then, Borland announced the Jedi initiative, the Code Central repository, and some other steps in the right direction. Good moves.]
  • If borland help third party vendors with an ecommerce site, they will be able to focus on their core technical work, with an advantage for the users. And Borland might also check the quality of these third party tools (hopefully better than in the past).
  • Borland can focus back on its original objective, the developers, including the individual ones.

    A Conclusion?

    Summing things up, I'm definitely happy of the outcome of this reorganization. Borland.com has all the possibilities for succeeding in a great way, providing developers with an alternative to a too powerful Micro$oft. Let's hope the new company fulfills his promises and that we'll really see borland.com is a primary source for developers. I'm already thinking of what I could sell there...

    As you can guess, it is very hard to drag a conclusion, as we'll need a few months to see how borland.com evolves.

    Welcome back, Borland... with or without com


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