Corel said the launch of Microsoft's CE cut-down operating system was the main factor in its decision to dump plans to make its own handheld computer.
However, it will carry on with development of its network computer, the Corel Video NC, which should ship next month. Company representative Carrie Bendza said "We want to evaluate the impact of Windows CE and go on from there. We also want to focus our resouces on the NC."
In September Corel said it planned to ship one million handheld PCs by next summer. However, analysts said the launch of CE, which will run on handheld devices from vendors such as Compaq and NEC, has made this market extremely competitive. Corel, which has attached itself firmly to the network computer camp as part of its ongoing war with Microsoft in the office software suite market, would have run a Java-based system on its handheld, rather than CE.
Analysts in Corel's native Canada were pleased with the company's deicsion, saying it needs to focus on gaining market share for its office products. Some are even doubtful about its plans to move into hardware with its own NC. "This is a first step towards focusing the company's resources," commented Howard Lis of Griffiths McBurney in Toronto. "With limited resouces, Corel needs to make a call where they deploy resources."
Corel gained on Microsoft Office in the summer in unit sales, following heavy discounting, but is well behind in dollar terms. It is pinning its hopes on mass uptake of NCs to break Microsoft's stranglehold on the personal computer market and was one of the first software houses to announce applications supporting the Oracle NC specification and Java.
Corel Office for Java is due to ship in the first quarter and will now include groupware features such as email, workflow and discussion groups. Corel has licensed the Lotus Notes-style capabilities from Sanga International. This gives Sanga - which makes Pages, an enterprise tool for building Java applications against corporate databases - an entry into the shrinkwrapped market.
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