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No Lawsuits, Just On-Demand Software From SCO

NEW YORK -- We're not just the company that sues companies over Linux code. We also innovate.

This is the latest message from SCO Group , which just unveiled Me Inc., a new edge-processing service that helps customers access and send data from enterprises to other smartphones with ease by making smartphones behave more like a remote control device.

SCO is positioning the edge processor as a replacement for "complex, multi-tier middleware" in order to provide simple service scripting and bring desktop application power to the thinnest of mobile devices.

"Smartphones are hot, but could be smarter," said Tim Negris, a 25-year tech veteran credited with coining the term "thin client."

Negris joined SCO Group in August as senior vice president of marketing for the Me Inc., platform. He said it offers a form of "aggressive defensiveness" in how security and policy roles are assigned along with users' access to data. "That's what good system management is about," he added. "This is software-as-a-service that also turns a Treo [smartphone] into a remote control where the data is securely stored," he said of the federated server system deployed by the processor.

The hosted system is the Lindon, Utah-based company's first major foray into software-on-demand -- and Web services as well.

SCO is a provider of Unix-based software, networking and embedded systems. In the past few years, however, it has become better known as the bête noire of the open source community as a result of its complex, $5 billion lawsuit claiming that IBM pilfered select parts of the Linux kernel into its own version of Unix.

During a press briefing here, SCO CEO Darl McBride sought to keep the discussion off litigation and on SCO's new Me, Inc., digital network. Not only is this positioning the company to deliver mobile applications into the fast-growing smart handheld device market, but the subscription model represents a diverse form of revenue for SCO, which relies on traditional licensing fees for its legacy products.

"Our Unix customers are set in corporations, branch offices and in the small to medium size business market. The sales cycle for this segment is a typically long one," McBride told internetnews.com.

"They'll run for 10 years at a time without the need for a big change -- they don't break. With this [Me platform], the market is everybody. Our sales cycle is measured in minutes and hours. Usually when we demo the product, customers are ready to buy. It's tapping into SCO's long-term capabilities, such as our Unix-legacy knowledge of carriers and the telecommunications sector, and providing a stream of recurring revenue that keeps going for us," McBride continued.

"Our mantra has always been about reliability -- with our Unix software, for example. This is the final piece in that equation. And it takes the mobility part of it into play," he told internetnews.com. "Everyone's talking about on-demand software and real time, but how many people in the work force are truly real-time with messaging? This is a mobile experience that we call fabric computing."

The Me Inc. platform is based on what SCO calls a unique edge-processor software technology running in a network-based Unix or Microsoft Windows operating environment.

The edge processor offloads logic and data from end-point devices in order to enable secure access to enterprise and Internet-based information, services and resources.

In addition, it provides new services, such as unique voice messages that can update a colleague -- and in less than one minute in length -- as fast as a quick e-mail in an inbox.

McBride said the Me Inc. networking software platform is designed to allow service providers and carriers to create and deploy new digital services for a market that is seeing significant growth.

He's not kidding. SCO pointed out data from The Radicati Group that reckons the worldwide mobile workforce will grow from 17 percent of corporate professionals in 2004 to 89 percent in 2008.

Features of the service include Shout, which is like voicemail that includes multimedia; you can send like e-mail to groups of any size; Action, designed for planning, delegating and tracking progress of projects among groups; a polling feature called -- what else? -- Vote; and a feature called People that is for searching through profiles of people in existing directories or a users' mobile service.

Up next are hosted versions for Research in Motion's popular BlackBerry wireless communication devices, SCO said. It will also release systems that are compatible with Windows Mobile and Symbian-based devices. Solaris-based operating systems are under consideration too.

And Me Inc. for Linux-based devices? That's really not an option right now.

"You'll have to talk to my evil twin brother about the lawsuit," McBride quipped.