Be - the company that Apple decided not to buy - has dramatically pulled out of its Bebox hardware business to focus entirely on software development.
The company will honour warranties on already sold Beboxes, but from now on it will concentrate on the BeOS operating system with particular emphasis placed on releases for Apple?s Powermac platform.
In a letter to customers and developers, Alex Osadzinski, Be?s director of sales and marketing, wrote: "At Mac World in San Francisco last month, it became very clear that almost all the developer and future user interest was in the BeOS for Powermac.
"If we could build a quad 604 Bebox and ship it this quarter for $3,000 or even $5,000 we would have a winner on our hands. But products like this take a lot of time and money to develop and cost a lot to build, especially in low volumes," he continued.
He added: "It?s very hard, actually impossible, for a small 50-person company like Be to keep up with the hardware engineering resources of the entire Powermac market."
He went on to claim that the company had so many third party hardware suppliers interested in licensing the BeOS that the company faced the prospect of a conflict of interests between its hardware offering and those of its licensees. "We?ve chosen to avoid this conflict in the simplest way possible," he concluded. Last year Be was widely tipped to be acquired by Apple as a solution to the latter?s need to produce a next-generation operating system to revive the Macintosh range. But negotiations stalled over the asking price and Apple bought Next instead.
Ironically, the latest twist in Be?s fortunes uncannily mirror those of Next in its formative years. Both companies were set up by former Apple executives, both developed technologically innovative operating systems software and both had hardware divisions that were shut down in favour of a software-only product strategy.
The original Bebox appeared in 1990 when it was one of the first multiprocessing desktop machines on the market. Since then, Intel-based multiprocessing machines have appeared at far lower cost.
When the Apple takeover fell through last year, Be founder and chief executive Jean Louis Gassee made it clear that the future for the company lay in software. The company has a deal with Mac clone manufacturer Power Computing to run the BeOS and is exploring relationships with other Mac clone producers.
Gassee has also hinted that the company is looking into producing versions of the software that will run on Intel-based machines.
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