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February 10, 2006

JBuilder and Delphi may be separated

Posted 3178 days ago on February 10, 2006

Today I was briefed on the Borland situation by Laurent Séraphin, EMEA director of Product Solutions. He indicated that a sale of the IDE division is hoped for in Q2. I asked whether it was more likely that a brand new company would be formed, or whether an existing company might acquire the products. "Both scenarios are possible," he said, though he wouldn't be drawn further.

Would Borland consider selling the Java products separately from those for Windows? "That would be a possibility," he said, "having in mind the interests of the customers and the communities."

I asked Séraphin about possible complications. For example, Together modeling will stay with Borland, but is deeply integrated into JBuilder and Delphi. "Hypothetically, there could be a licensing agreement between Borland and the new company," he remarked. "All the scenarios are possible. It's not impossible to see agreement formed about using the IDE technologies in parts of our ALM offering, as well as using the Together technology in the IDEs from the new company."

I speculated about whether there could be major changes in strategy for the IDE products, such as further updates to the "PrimeTime" JBuilder, or a revival of cross-platform Delphi. "All the points you've raised will be carefully reviewed within the new company," he stated. "I see that as highly possible." Reading between the lines, it's interesting how Borlanders are tending to talk about "the new company" rather than "the acquiring company", suggesting that this is more what is expected (let me emphasise, this is pure speculation on my part).

Since Borland will lose its Windows compilers, will there be a shift towards Java rather than .NET in the ALM product line? Not according to Séraphin. "Later this quarter we'll be making announcements about CaliberRM integrating with the .NET development environment. The world is pretty much divided 50/50 between .NET and J2EE. There's also a lot of companies developing for both."

Séraphin insists that the outcome of this separation will be more investment in the IDE products, rather than less. In the meantime it's business as usual, though I hope a deal is concluded no later than Q2 as a protracted delay will be damaging.

Update

Borland's John Kaster refers me to this chat transcript, mostly even less illuminating than my briefing, but which contains the remark: "These products were put together to be 'a company' attractive to buyers and make business sense", in answer to a question about whether they could be split. But does it make business sense to keep them together? I'm not convinced.

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Re: JBuilder and Delphi may be separated

Posted 3156 days ago by Jeremy M • • • Reply

The synergy between Borland's IDE products is that they share the same sales channel.

Both IDE products have strong followings amongst ISVs, smaller developer shops (like mine) and education. Larger corporations also buy the products, although this never really reached critical mass with Delphi and is rapidly subsiding with JBuilder.

While the technology that they use differs so there needs to be two (or more?) development teams, that isn't the most expensive bit of the company. Like other software vendors the cost of sales and administration at Borland is much higher than the cost of R&D.

So it makes perfect business sense to rationalize Borland around sales channel lines rather than technology lines, as that's the biggest part of the organisation in terms of expense.

And in practice you'll find that probably 75% of those that work at the IDE side of Borland work with both technologies equally.

Where it gets more difficult is explaining this to developers, who think of "the other technology" as "the enemy" and get all emotive about something that is, at the end of the day, just a business.

Re: JBuilder and Delphi may be separated

Posted 3156 days ago by Tim Anderson • • • Reply

Fair point about the sales channel Jeremy, thanks.

Tim


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