Inroads on the Desktop (was Re: New prices for UnixWare)

Inroads on the Desktop (was Re: New prices for UnixWare)

Post by Evan Leibovit » Tue, 27 Feb 1996 04:00:00




>Note: I don't speak for SCO, and these are my own opinions and impressions.
>} I'm pretty amazed at these prices if they are true.
>} [...] I believe that if any inroads are
>} made now, it will not be because of Unixware or $co.
>In this case those "fairly reasonable" prices were below cost: Novell was
>losing money on every copy of packaged UnixWare they sold. They could afford
>this loss-leader strategy to try and ``buy'' marketshare from SCO, as they
>were a multi-billion dollar company and UNIX was a small fraction of their
>entire revenue.

And you don't think Microsoft has this same approach with NT? The
biggest difference is that NT is a more important strategic product
for MS than UnixWare turned out to be for Novell.

Quote:>Their pricing structure was never intended as a viable,
>sustainable business-model: it was a calculated and ongoing _promotional_
>price.

As many newcomer products must do.

Quote:>And it didn't work.

Well, this was the first competitor that SCO bought rather than ran
into the ground :-).

Quote:>Even with Novell's "dumping" UNIX on the market, SCO was outselling them
>10 to 1 (and while I don't have hard numbers at my disposal, I'd wager
>SCO sold more UNIX desktops than Novell over the past few years as well).

I have my own, marketing-based reasons why. Novell's corporate culture,
expept for a precious few Novell advocates, had an extremely hard time
with the concepts we generally refer to as "open systems".

Quote:>And ironically, the low-ball pricing hurt them in many commercial accounts
>(i.e., ``You get what you pay for: why are you giving this away if it's so
>darn good?''

That is a certain corporate mentality that, I suppose, will always be
with us, and cause people to buy overpriced *merely because "if it's
so expensive it *must* be better" (not that I'd ever apply this to SCO :-).
I admit this mentality exists; when confronted with such a scenario, my
reaction (as a salesperson) would be "all the more reason to get it
*before* they realize how underpriced it is!"

One *must* acknowledge, however, that the influence of freeware Unix
clones (not just Linux but the BSD derivitives too) has an effect on
the perception on the cost of quality in this market.

Quote:>Most of the other "UNIX" companies are still focused on the desktop (though
>Novell eventually began to follow SCO's lead in this regard).

Only for lack of anything better to do. :-) They'd destroyed PE, what
else could they do?

Quote:>For instance,
>while Sun sells a whole bunch of UNIX systems, these are almost all clients
>(and RISC-based workstations at that: they have the same problem with regards
>to *izing their bread 'n' butter with Solaris for Intel as Novell had
>with their positioning of UnixWare vs. NetWare).

Check out the proportion of Web sites being run from Sun *servers*.
That's not a market to sneeze at...

Quote:>it's also true that while the entire UNIX
>market is showing healthy growth, the ratio of desktops to servers is on
>the decline.

Even when counting Linux installations? The various distributions on CD
are selling between 50,000 and 100,000 per month depending on who you
talk to. Even if only a quarter of these sales are actually installed,
that's a heck of a base.

Quote:>I do hope that Caldera can make a go of it with Linux, and nothing would
>please me more than to see a huge explosion of low-cost UNIX-like systems
>on the desktop.  This would be great for the entire open systems/UNIX market,
>and thus a win-win for SCO as well.

OK. If you believe this, and such an attitude is common within SCO, I'm
going to make a fairly bold suggestion:

Does SCO have the courage to donate a significant piece of its
technology to the freeware community, in the interest of promoting
"a huge explosion of low-cost UNIX-like systems on the desktop"?

I have something very specific in mind -- the package installation
technology. One of the few areas in which the Linux world is heavily
fragmented is in the issue of software installation, Red Hat doesn't
use the same format as Slackware, which doesn't use the same as
Yddrasil, etc. A donation of a stable, functional installation
mechanism would encourage the distribution of binary-level apps for
Linux/Caldera, and standardize a very basic function across the two
major forms of Intel Unix.

Many other commercial vendors have donated technology to the freeware
community; Unix basics such as NFS would not be there without such
actions.

Installation procedures are functions which do not make or break a
product at a competitive level. Is SCO interested enough in the
development of apps to encourage a minimum level of commonality with
the Linux community?

Quote:>Over the years I've seen a lot of wannabies come into the market and then
>go out of business.  Coherent went belly-up last year, and there've been
>many, many more who failed and left their customers in a lurch in the past.

Too true.

Quote:>[SCO has] been around for over fif* years,
>and by all accounts should be around a good deal longer.  Just compare
>and contrast with those fly-by-night operations who're now gone, or those
>companies who's overriding concerns of *izing commissions from their
>cash cows thwarted their selling into the open Intel-based industry-standard
>and/or UNIX space.

Indeed. But the Linux community is none of these...

Quote:>P.S. -- All that being said, I think that a very competitive *promotional*
>(not list) price to keep the middle-ground UnixWare advocates on board is
>a very good idea, and am (along with others) lobbying for it here.

Excellent. And thanks.

Quote:>And don't forget that that $550 AS upgrade gives you a server which lists
>for over $14,000 (and SCO has sold a number of those 5,000-User licenses)!

>That's what I call a heckuva rate of return!!!  ;^)

In other words, buy UnixWare 2.01 if you can still find it :-).

--
 Evan Leibovitch, Sound Software Ltd., located in beautiful Brampton, Ontario

      Economists have successfully predicted 14 of the last 2 recessions

 
 
 

Inroads on the Desktop (was Re: New prices for UnixWare)

Post by Tomas Vanha » Wed, 28 Feb 1996 04:00:00



Quote:>Even so, SCO has not given up on
>the UNIX desktop marketplace.  They continue to invest in, productize, add
>features to, package, promote, sell and make a tidy profit on their desktop
>products.  But their focus here is going to be appropriate for the realistic
>expectations for revenue in these market niches.

[...]

Quote:>There are niches where UNIX-based desktops make a lot of sense, but the
>``desktop war'' was over long, long ago.  The inescapable reality for SCO
>(and all the other UNIX-based systems providers) is that the overall market
>demand for this class of product lags way behind that of the mass-market
>consumer-oriented products like MS-Windows.

[...]

Quote:>Might it not be more prudent to concentrate on cross-platform connectivity
>and manageability with those non-UNIX desktop systems rather than beat your
>head against the wall (and lose money) to try to convince desktop users to
>"get religion"?

[...]

You are certainly correct in saying that the UNIX-on-Intel desktop
market is small. However, it is not a single niche market, but several
niche markets. At the current 2.1 PE prices I can only see you selling
to UnixWare developers and MIS professionals who need UNIX and
DOS/Windows (Merge) in the same box.

If you want to keep selling to university sites, another major nice
market, you'll just have to introduce educational pricing for the 2.1
PE. (Novell only ever had educational pricing for the AS -- the PE price
was so low they did not need to.)

I agree with you that it's totally senseless to try to convince desktop
users to "get religion". If anyone needs convincing, it's the people who
manage the desktops. At most university sites (and large corporate sites),
the sysadms already "have religion".

Remember, it is only within the last 18 months or so that 486/Pentium
systems with at least 16MB RAM and a reasonable display subsystem have
become a commodity. Before that, a UNIX desktop was just too expensive
or too sluggish.

Quote:>I do hope that Caldera can make a go of it with Linux, and nothing would
>please me more than to see a huge explosion of low-cost UNIX-like systems
>on the desktop.  This would be great for the entire open systems/UNIX market,
>and thus a win-win for SCO as well.

Yeah. At big sites with a small but knowledgeable IT staff, managing
UNIX desktops can be a lot easier than managing Macs or Windows
desktops. File system permissions, fact-finding missions to the desktop
via telnet connections... need I say more? Except that Caldera's looking
genuinely attractive for these kind of customers.

Quote:>But...
>Over the years I've seen a lot of wannabies come into the market and then
>go out of business.  Coherent went belly-up last year, and there've been
>many, many more who failed and left their customers in a lurch in the past.
>Meanwhile, SCO invented the concept of a shrink-wrapped Intel-based UNIX
>system software.  They also invented a UNIX-based, integrated, graphical
>environment many years ago.  They've been around for over fif* years,
>and by all accounts should be around a good deal longer.  Just compare
>and contrast with those fly-by-night operations who're now gone, or those

Fly-by-night... you are right, a small OS operation is conceptually a
questionable one. Unless they release the source and let the whole
Internet hack on it, like Linus Torvalds did. But you just reminded me
about a whole-page adverti*t I saw in, wait, here it is, page 84 of
the March 1995 issue of UNIX Review:

"Think of it as UNIX-Ware without the -Ware. No Red Box. No Unified
Vision of the World. Just UNIX. A stable 4.2. Announcing a New Version:
UNIX System V Release 4.2." The vendor is Esix Systems. The adverti*t
mentions a $1295 price, which must refer to a server system.

Just checked their web site (http://www.veryComputer.com/), and they still seem
to be in business. The web page calls their system SVR4.2MP. I wonder if
it's with or without all the fixes Novell did to stock UnixWare 2.0?
Their web page mentions Merge as an option. Do they supply desktop
systems? I think I shall ask them for more details by email...

Quote:>And don't forget that that $550 AS upgrade gives you a server which lists
>for over $14,000 (and SCO has sold a number of those 5,000-User licenses)!

Yeah, this is great. We're definitely upgrading our AS to 2.1 now.

Quote:>That's what I call a heckuva rate of return!!!  ;^)

Well, we are not going to sell it away, so from our point of view we are
just keeping the open license we paid for initially.

But the upgrade police is really nice, especially with regard to Merge.
--

Tel. (90) 191 22097                     http://www.veryComputer.com/~vanhala/

 
 
 

Inroads on the Desktop (was Re: New prices for UnixWare)

Post by Andrew Jos » Wed, 28 Feb 1996 04:00:00


: OK. If you believe this, and such an attitude is common within SCO, I'm
: going to make a fairly bold suggestion:

: Does SCO have the courage to donate a significant piece of its
: technology to the freeware community, in the interest of promoting
: "a huge explosion of low-cost UNIX-like systems on the desktop"?

: I have something very specific in mind -- the package installation
: technology. One of the few areas in which the Linux world is heavily
: fragmented is in the issue of software installation, Red Hat doesn't
: use the same format as Slackware, which doesn't use the same as
: Yddrasil, etc. A donation of a stable, functional installation
: mechanism would encourage the distribution of binary-level apps for
: Linux/Caldera, and standardize a very basic function across the two
: major forms of Intel Unix.

Better to go with POSIX 1387.2 - checkout the Lasermoon web pages
http://www.lasermoon.co.uk/linux-ft/package-formats.html.

HPUX and Digital say they'll be switching to this in 96.
I've not been following this POSIX standard that closely but
it may be similar to the SVR4 packaging and distribution (the latter
is also a key issue).

Alternately you could approach Lucent Technologies to see if
the software is still available in what was the UNIX System Toolchest.

Andrew

--
Andrew Josey, #include <disclaimer.h>
Freeware binaries & sources for UnixWare : ftp.abs.net:/unixware/freebird

 
 
 

1. SCO UnixWare 2.1 Upgrades (was Re: New prices for UnixWare)

: Essentially, you get a full product, and in the case of the AS additional
: licenses for unlimited users and SCO UnixWare 2.1 Advanced Merge.  There
                                   ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
: is no SES involved; the Software Enhancement Service options for the SCO
: UnixWare 2.1 product line have yet to be announced.

Is that the Enhanced Mode merge?  And if so, does it come free with the
upgrade, or is extra-$$$?  I desparately need to get hold of a few
un-encumbered copies of this.

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