At the core of Me Inc. technology is something SCO calls an "edge processor," actually a Web-services engine that runs on any Linux, Unix, or Windows server. The other main part of the Me Inc. package is a set of templates to help companies create mobile applications and services. These include: Shout, which is being used by beta clients to push voice and data messages to mobile users; Vote, used to poll mobile users on a particular topic and then tabulate the results; Action, a tool for remotely managing assignments and employees; and People, used to create personnel directories with multimedia profiles.
"We want to be the iTunes of software," SCO's McBride says.
Photo by George Frey/EPA
The technology behind Me Inc. comes from SCO's little-noticed July 2003 acquisition of Vultus Inc., which offered tools for developing Web services that small and midsize businesses could build atop their SCO Unix infrastructures. SCO bought the company just a few months after launching its infamous multibillion-dollar lawsuit against IBM. At the time, SCO called its Web-services initiative SCOx and envisioned that Vultus' WebFace Web-application development environment would let customers transform archaic green screens into dynamic browser-based interfaces. "There wasn't a lot of interest in that, though," McBride admits. This forced SCO to find another way to make use of its investment in Vultus.
The offerings from Me Inc. represent a high-growth opportunity for SCO. "What SCO described here today is clearly something people are interested in," says Tony Iams, an analyst at research firm D.H. Brown Associates. "It's a little bit of a long shot, although the company has a solid technology foundation with its Vultus acquisition."
One of the challenges a struggling SCO faces is pushing a Web-services platform against those offered by Microsoft through .Net and Sun Microsystems through its Java development environment. SCO also has to contend with the ill will its legal actions have created. Whether or not they use Linux, many companies have been put off by SCO's decision to take its fight to end users such as retailer AutoZone Inc. Says Iams, "It's a huge challenge for them, since they're seen as the company that's trying to kill Linux."