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Be

Be Buyout Looms Closer 268

Xaroth writes "The Register is reporting that Be, Inc. has found a buyer. For those that haven't followed Be's progress lately, they also eliminated about a third of their workforce on Tuesday (28 positions), consisting mainly of their sales and marketing departments, but that number also includes some of their development staff. The Register claims that these layoffs are part of the buyout agreement. While an official statement hasn't been made by Be, Inc., the suspected "Mystery Buyer" is either Sony or Palm. Be's stock was up as much as 40% today at the news. I hope whoever buys them (if this holds true) continues development for the desktop--'twould be a shame to let such wonderful technology go to waste."
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Be Buyout Looms Closer

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  • How could it not be obvious that the buyer is Sony? Aside from how obvious it is just from Sony's actions pertaining to Be over the last year or so, buying the best technology at rock-bottom prices is what Sony has been doing for 30 years. You think Sony invented Trinitron? Not, they bought it dirt cheap out of America and have been making a fortune on it, patented, ever since.
  • Be's problem is that they just haven't bothered to make the most of their product. I fell in love with BeOS, and the idea of BeOS, when I first saw it. A made-from-scratch OS based on the power and stability of unix, and the ease of use of MacOS. They could have MADE something from that, but they seem to have forgotton to DEVELOP IT FURTHER. We were delivered BeOS 5, and then promtly forgotten about...Be Inc. had this crazy idea about embedded and portable devices, which failed totally. We don't NEED fridges with built in internet..no-one wants them, no-one makes them, so Be were stupid to try and offer an operating system for them. The same goes for portable devices...it will be a long time yet before a large market exists for portable internet devices - for the average user it's still stupidly expensive.

    So basically, Be seem to have given up on their GOOD product (BeOS) in favour of their crappy product (BeIA), and are paying the price.
  • Palm [palm.com] issued a Press Release [prnewswire.com] this morning stating that they purchased Be for $12M. ...anactofgod...
  • I don't see much value in BeOS. It doesn't matter how nicely designed it is, the code itself just doesn't matter. What makes or breaks operating systems is a user community and a developer community, and BeOS has simply failed to attract enough of either. How to attract a large user and developer community is the billion dollar question, but a fairly clean C++-based OS apparently isn't sufficient.
  • Ive always thought that if anyone could challenge Microsoft it would be a deal between Be and Sony. Sony has already sold nearly $6 million ps2's and has a hard drive adaptor coming out very soon. Imagine adding a vga adaptor...suddenly you have an instant computer. One that is proprietary much like apple but cheap enough to be nearly disposable anyway.
  • by anothy ( 83176 )
    i really liked be. i was a registered developer back when that gave you a four-didgit number (3860). i bought a dual-133 BeBox, and love it. they did a number of things right, particularly in the areas of user interface and multimedia, and even did a reasonably good job in partnering relationships. i was quite happy with their developer support (i've twice gotten email from JLG himself). but they also did a number of things wrong. here's what i think:

    first, on the technical front, Be was an improvement, but not the revolution they liked to pretend to be. they had an incrementally better UI, kernel, and networking than Mac or Win32. but they were not revolutionary, nor were their approaches to these areas truely innovative. the GUI and file sharing models were examples of existing models done better.
    second, there's C++. regardless of what you think of it as an applications language, it's just not a good choice for kernels, particularly ones with real-time or low-latency requirements. and it's not a good idea to make it the only real choice for applications development, either.
    third was development environment. probably because of their history at Apple, the Be folks were quite happy giving Metroworks control of their development environment. which meant no (unrestricted) free compiler (at least on PPC chips). the wouldn't help other compler efforts (like gcc) with their object format. and while Metroworks may be good, they're just not the toolset many developers are most productive (or comfortable) with.
    they also wasted much of their effort on things that didn't matter. there's plenty of kernels suitable for real-time or low-latency operation. many of these are available either open source or under reasonable licensing terms. Be would have been better served taking the OS X approach - build on somebody else's work, concentrating on what you're really good at (in Be's case, the multimedia aspect).
    but i think what really killed Be was the path of least resistance. i first fell in love with the company for the hardware. a reasonably inexpensive dual-proc box with great numbers, and software that could use it. wow. okay, maybe they were a bit late there, but there's always been at least a niche market for high-end workstations. then they canned the hardware to concentrate on the software. which could've been okay, if they had reason to believe Apple would be more co-operative. they didn't; it was a gamble. and they were wrong. Apple closed up just as the hardware started getting really interesting again, and Be was stuck. then they moved their focus to intel hardware - a much broader market, but with correspondingly wider demands. it's much easier to support every Mac sound card than to support every PC sound card. then, when that didn't even go as well as they'd hoped, they moved on to the IA market, with much less defined power structures and less entrenched players (read: no Micro$oft monopoly).
    at each stage, Be chose to find an easier path rather than finding the path right for what they had. like it or not, an OS originally designed for media content creation is not ideally suited to IAs. nor should one expect it to be.

    anyway, if anyone's got any suggestions on what to do with my BeBox, let me know (don't even talk to me about Linux PPC).
  • BE just did not know how to market their products. They could have been big like Linux if they had only put some real money into marketing.
  • BeOS Problems (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Argh. The only thing worse than a Mac fanatic is a BeOS fanatic. I keep hearing "best OS ever blah blah blah". BeOS was not *that* good. I was one of the first to use 3.x series on Intel and the performance wasn't *that* good (granted 3.x was unoptimized). I get the strange feeling that many slashdotters who proclaim the glory of BeOS never actually used it.

    Problems with BeOS:

    1) Not multi-user. Sure you can talk about plans to become multi-user. BeOS has plans. Unix has been multi-user for what, 20 years?! Windows (NT) has been multi-user for what, 10 years?! Mac OS has been multi-user for... er... well they are now! And BeOS has plans. And yet, "Be is the best!"

    2) C++ API. C++ is quickly becoming an obsolete programming language. No garbage collection, not fully OO, dangerous type casts, etc. Witness the horrible state of large-scale software products with all their memory-leaks, crashes, etc. Almost all modern programming languages now have built in garbage collection at least. Java, C#, Eiffel, all scripting languages, lisp, smalltalk, etc. Even pure C is much cleaner than C++ and paradoxically, it often results in code that is easier to maintain! There is a good reason why Linux development is focused on pure C (with the occasional C++ success story - KDE, etc.).

    3) Dysfunctional API. I did do a little experimentation with the BeOS API, and it was *definitely* streamlined. However, it lacked many needed features. In particular, it's drawing canvas couldn't do everything that Xlib-based graphics can do quite easily.

    4) Aboslutely horrendous apps. Due to (a) the API being new to developers (at this stage in the game POSIX, X, Win32 are well documented and stable) and (b) many [amateur] startup companies trying to create new software for it from scratch, the BeOS was plagued by buggy, featureless apps. I was not satisfied with a single donloaded trial app. Gobe was supposed to be really good, but I found its UI to be awkward (for example there was a zoom-slider, that you could slide around to make it zoom in real-time, but there was no way to type in a specific scale, so you'd wind up with 97% or 102%, but couldn't get 100%).

    5) All that multi-threading stuff didn't improve performance that much. It might on a multi-processor machine, but how many people use multi-processor machines at home? Most multi-processor machines are used for network servers and such. BeOS might have been coded for performance, but the performance wasn't significantly greater than what was available on Windows and UNIX. Anybody who wanted REAL performance (music, video game, and movie studios, etc.) could probably afford 3D accelerated graphics cards for Windows or high-end silicon graphics UNIX boxes, so BeOS was a moot point.

    BeOS was an important player in the fight to find alternatives to Wintel. But it is best to just leave it be and let it die. We all gave it a chance, but there is simply too much inertia for it to succeed at this stage of the game. Windows 2000 is very stable and capable (I'm quite impressed. Windoze Me OTOH is WORSE than '98 by far.) and since XP is going to be based on the NT kernel, we can probably expect pretty good OS products form MS in the future. I will be SO glad to see the DOS '95 series die off once and for all. Halellulah!

    Of course I have been using Linux since RH 4.x series. Linux will continue to be my primary OS for doing cool stuff that Windows can only dream of.

  • Speculation (Score:4, Funny)

    by cr@ckwhore ( 165454 ) on Friday August 03, 2001 @04:38PM (#2160140) Homepage
    I'll place bets on Palm as the mystery buyer... everyone knows they need a new OS and Be would be an excellent OS for the nextgen palm devices!

    • I place bets on these guys [microsoft.com] as the mystery buyer... everyone knows they need a new OS and Be would be an excellent OS for the nextgen doomsday devices!
    • Re:Speculation (Score:2, Insightful)

      by stickb0y ( 260670 )
      Moderators labeled this as "interesting"? This is a joke, right?

      Palm as a likely buyer? Don't be ridiculous.

      1) Did Palm suddenly find a downed plane with a dead pilot and a briefcase with millions of dollars in drug money? Palm has enough financial troubles of their own without spending what money they have left on Be.

      2) Palm OS is already a good operating system for handhelds. Futhermore, Palm is already in the process of porting their OS to ARM--why would they want to buy another OS now and start over? Considering that Palm is already way behind
      in getting their ARM-based OS out the door, if they stall any longer, they're dead.

      3) BeOS was designed for desktops, and BeIA is designed for internet appliances. The only reason Palm would be interested in either is for something like the Audrey, which already is known to be a colossal failure. Again, this isn't worth the money, and Palm should concentrate on handhelds.
      • You have valid points about why it's not all that likely Palm would be buyer. However, I think moderators thought it was genuinely interesting, even if not realistic or very insightful? And no, obviously I wasn't moderating it. :-)
      • Palm as a likely buyer? Don't be ridiculous.

        Now don't you feel stupid?

        Scott.

      • The only reason Palm would be interested in either is for something like the Audrey, which already is known to be a colossal failure

        Audrey, at least the concept, was not exactly deemed a "colossal failure". Their main problem was they were part of the massacre at 3Com, Audrey never had a chance. The concept was well received, I have several friends that have one and they mostly love them. The in the kitchen, super convenient, Palm docking station part was quite excellent.

        Yeah, there were weaknesses. Mail was kind of weak, but that could have been fixed. The browser really sucked, that could have probably been eliminated. Channels were quite cool and convenient. The screen was way too small, as was the keyboard. Price was too high.

        Bottom line, the concepts that Audrey introduced were actually quite well received and many considered them promising. It had quite a few issues, but it was pretty good for a first shot. My guess is if there was an Audrey part deaux, it could have been (or could be) very successful. It would not shock me at all if Palm were looking at doing something like that on their own and BeIA could be a decent choice (QNX in the original Audrey was not bad either). I personally think the Audrey concept was just a year or so ahead of its' time (the LCD and flash are just too expensive now to make a price competiive product).

      • So that's where my fucking plane went.
    • 37~ of the Palm workers are old Newton workers. (32 of them quit on one friday and left for palm)

      The new palms are ARM, just like the Newton.

      Apple has been rumored to have a "palm" for 3 years. If Palm had negotiated a contract correctly, they woudl be free and clear of encumberence with Apple after 2 years after Apple dropped the option to use Palm. It has been 2 years from the last strong "rumors", and lo and behold, the ARM target is annouced.

      (Why did JEff/donna leave palm? Well, graffitti was going to be slaughtered in favor of the Rosetta interface. Yup, Real printing nterface to the palm.)

      In short, Be is not a choice, given the strong Newton background of the Palm staff. (Graffiti was a MP100 App. 1st)
  • Let's just hope the buyer buys in support of the community. MS as a buyer? *shudder* Don't dwell on it..
  • So could it possibly become open-sourced?
  • Does that mean that the infamous BeUser, who's trolling I have not seen in a while, may be unemployed soon? Say it ain't so!
  • by hillct ( 230132 ) on Friday August 03, 2001 @04:46PM (#2160189) Homepage Journal
    Up For sale... Well that just goes to show, the computer industry is fickle. Be at the right place at the right time or you're dead. Be had a great piece of hardware, but couldn't sell it. They had a great operating system but couldn't find a platform for it. They had great visions for the information appliance market but they were there too soon.

    Only 2% of all businesses in the US succeed to any great degree and here's more evidence of that fact.

    The company has smart people, a great product but no one to sell to, and now they're up for sale. It's the american way... in a sad twisted sort of way...

    --CTH
    • by AdamInParadise ( 257888 ) on Friday August 03, 2001 @04:59PM (#2160244) Homepage
      Sure, BeOS is great, but the VPs just made a huge numbers of mistakes:
      1) The BeBox: a completly new architecture. Neat for sure, but look at Apple...
      2) They were planning to be "the Apple of multimedia production". Neat but maybe you should support more than 1 sound card (SB AWE32), humm?
      3) For 6 month, BeOS didn't have an architecture to run on, while switching from the Apple architecture to the PC...
      4) They just didn't listen to developers...
      5) It was a single-user system...
      6) Open Source would have been a good idea, two years ago, when they begun to run into serious troubles.

      They didn't fail because of Microsoft, stupid users, the dot-com bubble burst or anything. They failed because they made stupid strategic decisions.

      So long Be...
      • by Auckerman ( 223266 ) on Friday August 03, 2001 @05:34PM (#2160352)
        Sure, BeOS is great, but the VPs just made a huge numbers of mistakes:
        1) The BeBox: a completly new architecture. Neat for sure, but look at Apple...

        Apple: Proudly going out of business for over 25 years.


        2) They were planning to be "the Apple of multimedia production". Neat but maybe you should support more than 1 sound card (SB AWE32), humm?

        Sound cards supported by BeOS [be.com]


        3) For 6 month, BeOS didn't have an architecture to run on, while switching from the Apple architecture to the PC...

        Did their PPC version magically stop working?


        4) They just didn't listen to developers...

        Neither does Microsoft


        5) It was a single-user system...

        With Mutli-user job services and plans to move to a log in screen....


        6) Open Source would have been a good idea, two years ago, when they begun to run into serious troubles.

        I don't see what OS could have done for them, since they had a robust, fast, OS that they could not even GIVE away. All OS would do is guarantee that MUST give it away.


        They didn't fail because of Microsoft, stupid users, the dot-com bubble burst or anything. They failed because they made stupid strategic decisions.

        This reasoning I fail to see. This has been addressed time and time again. It was adressed in MS's trial and agreed to by Judge Jackson and the Appealate court. The Network Effect. Not only that, but MS uses value customer licensing to keep vendors from doing things it doesn't like. The more you suck up to MS, the less you pay for Windows, this includes not shipping an alternate OS. This was all covered in the trial.

        So you tell me, who was Be going to sell their desktop OS to?

        • " All OS would do is guarantee that MUST give it away."

          Excuse me. Where in the GPL licence [gnu.org] or the BSD licence [opensource.org] does it say you can't sell for money [gnu.org] the software?

          Oh, that's right -- nowhere does it say that.

          All it means is that some of the code is out under a licence that makes it friendly for people to use it in other free software projects. It could've been a way to get the hard work of the Be people out of the sinking ship, like Netscape did with Mozilla. Oh well. Our loss because some people there were perhaps uneducated about sharing the software.
        • by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Friday August 03, 2001 @10:34PM (#2161006) Homepage
          "I don't see what OS could have done for them, since they had a robust, fast, OS that they could not even GIVE away. All OS would do is guarantee that MUST give it away."

          It could have ensured that the current situation, the exact one developers feared, would never happen. If you have access to the guts of the system, even if Be Inc. vanishes you can still carry on. People are a lot more willing to develop for a live platform than a dead one, and in the traditional sense open source platforms do not die. They may have very few users and developers, but those few are free to do what they wish. That's why Open Source attracts so many people. It was obvious that Be would not uproot Microsoft Windows, and until it did that it was not a safe platform to work on. Open Source platforms are safe by definition, since they aren't tied to the fate of any one company. Even if one project totally dies it's code can be fertile ground for another project - check out the dillo web browser for an example. This is what free software developers want, and what Be can never be.

          Frankly, I myself wish that Microsoft would buy Be, scrap the Dos based crap they currently use, build a compatibility API to allow Be to run older apps, and use BeOS as the next generation of Windows. At least then we might not have such stability problems with Windows releases. I know people think Microsoft buying Be is silly, but frankly if done right the thought is actually very attractive.
          • starseeker said:
            "Frankly, I myself wish that Microsoft would buy Be, scrap the Dos based crap they currently use, build a compatibility API to allow Be to run older apps, and use BeOS as the next generation of Windows. At least then we might not have such stability problems with Windows releases."


            I case you did not notice Microsoft had this chap from DEC develop a Bastard VMS for them which has nothing from DOS left at its core guess what they call it WindowsXP.

            I would rather like to see some OSS company snap it up though I guess those don't have any $$$ left from the IPO craze.
            • "I would rather like to see some OSS company snap it up though I guess those don't have any $$$ left from the IPO craze."

              That would be best, of course, but I think the IP issues are such that more than just Be would need to be purchased in order to go open source, even if they could find the cash.

              As for WindowsXP, we'll see. That's not really a proven technology like BeOS is. Point taken about Dos, however.
          • It could have ensured that the current situation, the exact one developers feared, would never happen. If you have access to the guts of the system, even if Be Inc. vanishes you can still carry on. People are a lot more willing to develop for a live platform than a dead one, and in the traditional sense open source platforms do not die. They may have very few users and developers, but those few are free to do what they wish. That's why Open Source attracts so many people. It was obvious that Be would not uproot Microsoft Windows, and until it did that it was not a safe platform to work on.

            Oh wise one, please explain how Apple has been able to get developers for MacOS X?

            They are not going to topple Microsoft any more than Be. The parts of their system that are important to most developers are not open source.

            Be had a nice base of developers. What they did not have was people buying the OS. Had the playing field been level when they really got rolling about 5 years ago, then it might be a different story. Linux eroding MS on the server front, BeOS/MacOS eroding Windows on the desktop front. Instead, we all know the story, Microsoft controls the OEM's.
            • Apple is able to get developers because they already have an assured paying customer base for OS X, one thing Be has never had to any significant degree. In 1984, Machintosh was IT for easy to use computers. They remained so for many years. That is when they developed their core user and developer base, an extremely loyal crowd. If Be had been around back then they would have succeeded on the PC platform. Possibly even defeated the Macs. Likewise, if Mac OS X had appeared yesterday on the market WITHOUT the already loyal crowd, they would have failed. People stick with what they know, unless they are compelled to move to something new by a truly revolutionary technology. That's what Mac was in 1984. Be is not that today. Be is, as far as the mass market (home and corporate desktop users) are concerned, doing what everyone else does, but doing it correctly. Not enough.

              Open Source is a solution to this chicken-egg problem, because it attracts people for different reasons than just usability. Which is necessary in the early stages of the life of an OS, where usability compared to the competition is by definition limited.

              As for Mac toppling Microsoft, the fact that they won't would have killed them except for the fact they had a loyal user base. Even with that user base Apple was dying until they brought Steve Jobs back.

              Your last point, however, about OEM's, is absolutely correct and the point where we are in complete agreement. That control must be broken. That's what I'm hoping the government can do.
        • 4) They just didn't listen to developers...

          Neither does Microsoft


          Oh aren't you just full of analytic wisdom with your point-for-point repartee. Microsoft, see, they're bad guys, right? I mean, they must not listen to developers because well that would be bad if they didn't and they have to be bad guys so that you can say how bad they are, and they're big and mean and bad and oh wow hey I could go on and on but I'll let the rest of slashdot do that for me until the fucking cows come home, have calves, and i'm grilling their fucking hindquarters on my hibachi.

          Hundred bucks and I can get enough developer documentation and SDK's bigger than a stack of encyclopedias if i printed 'em out. It's called MSDN. Most of it's even online for free. Clue check, there's a reason people develop for Microsoft SDK's.
    • Be had a great piece of hardware, but couldn't sell it

      Their hardware was cool, not great. My BeBox was obsolete the day I got a PII 233 box. The PII was much faster at most tasks. The BeBox was basically crippled by the MPC105 Bridge/Controller they used. This chips allows for a single PowerPC with L2 cache, or two PowerPC chips without L2 (in the case of the BeBox). The Bebox was at that time the only way to go if you wanted to code for Be. Shortly thereafter they ported it to Mac hardware, and a few years later to x86. Unfortunately the extra BeBox hardware was very underutilized. I think I wrote one of the only programs for BeOS that actually did something with the 3 built-in IR ports (remote controlled MP3 player). AFAIK there was only one company that ever released hardware for the infamous GeekPort(tm)....

      But then again, Be only managed to sell a handfull of these boxes, and all of them at a loss.

      -adnans (still a proud BeBox 133 owner :)
  • My bet is on QNX... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Adnans ( 2862 ) on Friday August 03, 2001 @04:49PM (#2160202) Homepage Journal
    They are in the same space as Be is trying to penetrate and I think they have the cash and the incentive. Gain some technology and eliminate a potential competitor for 'pocket change' (Be is worth about $20 million). Not that BeIA poses a big threat to QNX's offering.

    In the end I think it's poor management that killed Be (think: Commodore -> Amiga). Here's a quote from the quotable JLG:

    "don't compare us to NeXT. We want to be a better tool for developers, not to be tasteful. We don't cost $10,000. We have a floppy drive. We do not defecate on developers."

    ...Yet that's EXACTLY what they've been doing for the last 2 years...

    -adnans (ex BeOS coder/enthousiast)
    • Gain some technology and eliminate a potential competitor for 'pocket change' (Be is worth about $20 million).

      Errr, yeah right. Where do people come up with these numbers? Oh right, you're multiplying their share value times the number of total shares of stock. You do realize this is a meaningless number, right? Be does not have to sell for that amount, since no one (but Be) would be in a position to hold all stock.

      Not that BeIA poses a big threat to QNX's offering.

      Well now your bitterness is just showing... BeIA certainly competes head to head with QNX in internet appliances.

      ...Yet [defecating on developers is] EXACTLY what they've been doing for the last 2 years...

      Funny... I thought they were trying to survive? It's pretty selfish of you to criticize a company that re-focuses so that they can SURVIVE. It's not like they were swimming in money, and decided to give developers the shaft. They're RUNNING OUT OF MONEY. They NEED MONEY. They had to do something. The IA market shift allowed them to reduce their cash burn, and focus on a market where they could sell to OEM's instead of the public. That's probably cheaper.

      I myself would rather them survive, make money, and THEN go back to BeOS development. Not focus on BeOS development until death.
      • Errr, yeah right. Where do people come up with these numbers? Oh right, you're multiplying their share value times the number of total shares of stock.

        Be's market cap has been hovering around $20 million for ages now. I don't see anyone paying a premium price.

        You do realize this is a meaningless number, right?

        As meaningless as your drivel, sure :)

        Well now your bitterness is just showing...

        Please.. I couldn't care less what happens to Be at this point in time. The whole situation does have an entertainment value nonetheless.

        BeIA certainly competes head to head with QNX in internet appliances.

        QNX is in the embedded space, of which IA's are only a fraction. And we all know IA's are a terrible flop. Who's going to pay $500 for a crippled proprietary PC these days?!! Be management jumped on the IA bandwagon/hype without doing market research themselves. OTOH everyone was predicting the IA market to be a multi-billion dollar one by now.

        ? It's pretty selfish of you to criticize a company that re-focuses so that they can SURVIVE

        Huh? You call this surviving??? Get real....

        myself would rather them survive, make money, and THEN go back to BeOS development

        Dream on. If they ever made money with BeIA do you seriously thing they'd pick up BeOS development again? That's a carrot they've been dangling in front of the remaining developers. Don't take it seriously...

        -adnans
    • >>We do not defecate on developers.
      >Yet that's EXACTLY what they've been doing for the last 2 years...

      Yeah, i never heard back from them when i signed up for details of the launch of the free version. Perhaps my order is still being processed? Oh well. There`s plenty of OS`s around. At least Windows, for all its sins, is some use for music production (cubase, cakewalk etc). BE promised all this stuff, but the software producers pulled out.
    • I dunno. Sony seems more likely to me. Boatloads of cash, the evilla connection, and I've always had the impression that the BeOS is more popular in Japan than it is in the West.
  • It would put a big smile on my face if it were RedHat.

    *sigh* Yeah, right.

    • That would surprise me, Redhat have said that they are not interested in the Desktop anymore.
      • Sure... if they had an acquisition in mind.

        However, RHAT is so darn low right now (tell me, I own some), that there are a few logistical problems, including:

        1. their stock would likely drop upon the announcement of them acquiring another entity (due to over-dillution expected thru the exchange - you know they'd have to overpay a bit for it). So, where would RHAT go from $3.XX? $2? $1? Ack... major target for being taken over (and that "this is not a poison pill" poison pill hasn't been voted on yet, if I recall correctly)

        2. $3.XX is a terrible place to be acquiring other companies at... it would have been prudent at $100+ to be buying real, tangible assets (sort of like how AOL did with their fantasy stock price awhile back).

        *scoove*
  • It will serve as the basis for the MacOS B, whose development will start in aproximatelly 5 years, as soon as Jean-Louis regains the Apple CEO post.
    :))

    (as a side note, I really, really wonder how much revenue have the late sales and marketing departments bougth into the company).
  • by MajorBurrito ( 443772 ) on Friday August 03, 2001 @04:55PM (#2160227)
    Speculation on the Be-related forums is running rampant. FYI, here is a list of the companies people have speculated about:

    AOL - compete for the internet w/ MS
    Sony - continued support for the eVilla
    Palm - compete w/ WinCE for the PDA market
    IBM - no idea what IBM would want w/ BeOS
    Nokia - multimedia cell phones
    EPOC/Symbian - same as above
    Compaq - something to run on alpha???
    QNX - add more multimedia capabilities
    Sun - compete for the desktop w/ MS
    Microsoft - final nail in a competitor's coffin
    Gobe - compete w/ MS for the office suite market
    Amiga - bring AmigaOS back to life

    As you can see, people are letting their imagination run away with them. Some of the above speculation is pretty interesting, though. You can check out BeNews [benews.com] for the latest.
  • ... and even throwing the UI on top of OS kernels - but the tracker and deskbar, the cornerstones of the UI, are already open source ... opentracker.org.

  • Status report (Score:5, Informative)

    by babbage ( 61057 ) <cdevers.cis@usouthal@edu> on Friday August 03, 2001 @05:28PM (#2160332) Homepage Journal
    I've been following this pretty closely, as the company behind my pet favorite OS has, at least as far as the conventional wisdom goes, been steadily going down the tubes all year now. Random observations, no particular order:
    • Though people ask for it continually, people in the know, such as _BeOS Bible_ author Scot Hacker, have repeatedly said that an open source version of BeOS will basically never happen [byte.com]. The system depends on licensed code that Be apparently couldn't give away even if they wanted to. I'd like to see this happen as much as everyone else, but don't count on it ever happening.
    • New math department: according to The Register [theregister.co.uk], Be's recent financial reports indicate that revenues are up over 600 percent. Thus proving that 600% of nothing is still, well, nothing.
    • Supposedly, somewhere on beosradio.com [beosradio.com], a ready to ship copy of BeOS r6 has been presented to CEO Jean Louis Gasseee. Various interesting takes on this one. Supposedly development on the desktop OS had basically halted, with all effort going into the IA version, so it would seem that there isn't enough code to be worth releasing a new version of the desktop OS. This is a shame, because a couple of useful components -- BONE networking, OpenGL graphics, etc -- were apparently under development before the switch to the IA focus, and it isn't clear if these components were then or are now ready for prime time. It could be a move to just get out one last version in whatever state it may be in, or there could actually be some new developments that haven't been publicized.
    • Discussion at BeGroovy [begroovy.com] suggests that, among other things, this Palm press release [prnewswire.com] would indicate that they're the likely buyed, while another commenter suggests [begroovy.com], supposedly on good authority, that Sony is the likely buyer and they're already feeling out where they would want to go with Be & its technology. Then again, a a followup to that [begroovy.com] said that, at least as far as releasing BeOS6, he was full of it, and that the only developer working on BONE has been on an extended vacation anyway. Finally, one commenter noted that the final issue of [bedope.com]BeDope [bedope.com] ["Be's own Onion" --me.] had anticipated all of this months ago. Hrm....
    • Over at BeNews [benews.com], there was yet another link to the Reg article and a whole lot of discussion [benews.com], generally going nowhere as these forums are wont to do, throwing out speculation that the buyer -- if there even is one, don't forget that this is still just a rumor -- could be any of Palm (they seem to like that idea; I'm not sure I see it but hey whatever), Gobe (developer of Be software -- seen as unlikely as they probably don't have much more cash than Be does), AOL, Compaq, Sun (now *that* would be a nice Network Computer...), Symbian, QNX (why?), Apple (doubt it), Microsoft (pretty sure that was a joke...) (too bad...), Amiga (ok that was definitely a joke), IBM, Hitachi, Samsung, Nokia, Transmeta, Intel, Red Hat (we're pretty safely into wild speculation territory at this point), SGI (see? completely off the wall, these people have no idea what they're talking about), QSSL (bonkers), DoCoMo (two unprofitable ideas that lose money together!), Wind River (who?), Ericsson, etc. Mostly this is all silliness. Towards the end of the conversation, a commenter notes [benews.com] that over on Yahoo's forums, the rumor has been confirmed (by who?), that the stock price is expected to shoot up (whoa, a whole dollar! golly!), and there will be an after hours announcement. Keep in mind however that, not so long ago, a 15 year old kid [nytimes.com] had such financial forums in the palm of his hand with his "expert" advice, so take that with the appropriate amount of salt. Still, something to watch for anyway.
    • Meanwhile, *checks* yes, Be's own press page [be.com] hasn't been updated since May 17. No help there...

    Hopefully all those links work, if not I apologize. I'm just summarizing the various pages that I've skimmed over the course of today. If there's any truth to the Yahoo rumors, there could be confirmation of this as soon as tonight. Though it would be sad to see the company shut down or swallowed whole, a lot of people have seen this coming for a long time, and it would be nice to have some resolution of the situation. BeOS is some great consumer computing technology, and I hope very much that it has a future. Perhaps we're about to find out if that is the case...

    • Meanwhile, *checks* yes, Be's own press page hasn't been updated since May 17. No help there...

      It would help if you were on the right page (the press release page, not the "Be in the news" page), which was updated a few days ago with the employee news:
      http://www.be.com/press/pressreleases/ [be.com]

      Be's recent financial reports indicate that revenues are up over 600 percent. Thus proving that 600% of nothing is still, well, nothing.

      In light of this recent discovery, I say we tell Sony/AOL/Palm that Be's profits soared 50,000% in the past year!
    • Got another speculation for you...

      Tascam [tascam.com]. why? No reason in particular. But their new digital audio workstation (more like a compact pro studio) is built on BeOS. Looks to be quite an interesting product...

      Pure speculation on my part, and even I am guessing it's dead off. But it's a thought, anyway...

    • Since you asked who Windriver are they bought BSDi's OS operations and along with it aquired the "comercial side" of FreeBSD. It might actually make some sense for them even if it was only to get their hands on BFS (be's journaling filesystem).

      Though you are right it is far fetched.
    • Though people ask for it continually, people in the know, such as _BeOS Bible_ author Scot Hacker ...
      Ow ... in this day and age of "3v1l Hax0rZ", it's gotta suck to have a name like that. Imagine all the horrible jokes that would circulate around your office. Stuff like

      "So, Mr. Hacker, what site are you going to take down today?"

      :-)
    • Is it AOL? (Score:3, Funny)

      by scoove ( 71173 )
      I see how AOL was glossed over (QUICK - SHORT!). Here's five contributions to a "top ten list" of why AOL is the likely acquirer:

      1. They confused GEOS with BEOS and thought they had to buy it all over again.
      2. What else do you do with all that cash piling up from the recent rate increases?
      3. Albania wasn't for sale.
      4. Case heard Gasse was from Apple and he wanted some pretty graphics for the cover of his next book.
      5. It's Netscape all over again, baby!

      *scoove*
    • Re:Status report (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tb3 ( 313150 )
      I don't know about Palm, their finances aren't so hot, they talked about spinning the OS division in a separate company and then ditched it when the market went south, and there's a class action lawsuit against them for stock manipulation. I got a letter about it last night.

      On the other hand, there's a great article on the Reg justifying the Sony theory. Sony hates Microsoft with a passion, they think their OS's are crap; not fit for human consumption.

      So, imagine a Sony Viao with a custom Sony OS(tm). Tuned for multi-media, able to interface with Sony digital cameras, video cameras, MP3 players, memory sticks (heck, even Aibo). Sony is one of the few companies with the marketing clout and the consumer know-how to pull this off. It could happen, and it would really put a chink in Microsoft's armor.

      • Sony hates Microsoft with a passion, they think their OS's are crap; not fit for human consumption. So, imagine a Sony Viao with a custom Sony OS(tm).

        Gah. Sony may hate Windows. (Or they may not... they certainly make enough money on the Vaio line to make them happy.) But if you've ever tried to use any of Sony's own user-side software (the "Media Bar", DVgate, that damn thumbwheel thing), you should be very, very afraid of the idea of their engineers getting their grubby hands on the BeOS. Basically, these guys couldn't code their way out of a high-pressure weather system, nevermind a wet paper bag -- flushing 90% of the Sony-authored crap is the only way to make a Vaio usable.

        I suspect that if this happened, this would become Sony's OS/2: half-heartedly promoted by one side of the company, while slowly ground into dust by the windows-using (and thus profit-making) arm of the company.

        On the other hand, at least you can still buy OS/2, sorta. I guess anything's better than Chapter 7.

      • I would actually buy a Sony PC using a BeOS based SonyOS (or whatever it would be called). I used BeOS 4.5 and 5, actually paying for both OS's and like them very much. It really sucks that there's not enough software for the OS. The biggest usage killer for me was no decent games. I totally agree that Sony has the clout and the cash to put a ding in M$'s armor, though. Go for it Sony!
      • I'd be impressed if Sony did this. I have no doubt that they wouldn't pull off one heck of a user interface/operating system, but I would have to wonder if they'd land in the same boat Microsoft is right now -- push sony and sony only products until the world is all sony?

        I like Sony equipment and all, but...
    • ...as the company behind my pet favorite OS has...


      My lab can barely manage to keep his tooth away from the furniture. He doesn't even know how to turn a computer on, much less what an OS is. Having a favourite OS is beyond his wildest dreams.


      Or is your pet a chimp, a dolphin or a mouse? That would certanly explain it.


    • Re:Status report (Score:3, Interesting)

      [P]eople in the know ... have repeatedly said that an open source version of BeOS will basically never happen. The system depends on licensed code that Be apparently couldn't give away even if they wanted to.

      Gee, this sounds familiar...

      People in the know have repeatedly said that an open source version of Netscape will basically never happen. The system depends on licensed code that Netscape apparently couldn't give away even if they wanted to.
      • Well... isn't the open source version of Netscape a total rewrite? Was the source code of older versions made open source? (I'm not saying it wasn't, I'm asking)
        • Netscape 6 was a total rewrite. but Netscape 5 the first open source version was not. It was ditched apperently due to extreme bit rot.
  • On a purely technical level, I'm hoping that Palm will buy out Be. Be's recent refocus on the embedded/internet appliance market really showcases the advantages of BeOS. Here, a real-time (or at the very least, low-latency) operating system can shine; moreover, since Microsoft hasn't yet conquered the embedded market, the barriers to entry aren't the same as the desktop market.

    PalmOS is, IMHO, quite sufficient for the current generation of PDA's. However, as devices become more inclusive (personal organizer + mp3 player + cell phone + web browser) -- in other words, what everyone seems to think of the Star Trek "Tricorder" -- the need for a well architected OS is absolutely necessary.

    I'm not one for buzzword compliance, but the fact that be is a modular, OO system will help in portability and tailoring for certain tasks. A PDA without sound hardware, for example, won't need a sound server runtime. Having the sound server be seperate and communicate via a standard API makes it really easy to excise that component without breaking any dependencies.

    An area I'd like to see Palm/Be to venture into is programmable logic controllers. By marketing Be's technology, OS, SDK, etc. as a competitor to VxWorks, the move can be made into industrial and automated systems. While this isn't particularly sexy or well-rounded (something that Be strives to be), it's certainly dependable money. Hardware manufacturers such as Siemens, GE, etc. are always looking for something to replace their custom-written, more-spaghetti-than-olive-garden operating systems and applications. While most people associate Be with multimedia, DSP work, et al, the kernel proper can be slimmed down to handle simple serial input-output tasks. Once a hardware client starts to use the software, they're going to grow dependent on it, and that's a steady -- albeit not too grandiose --flow of revenue for Be (and its buyer)

    Well, I can tell by the men in white coats encroaching that it's time to stop rambling.

    --
  • Duh.

    The two companies deserve each other.
  • Just speculating: how would *AOL* like to get Be? Great OS, multimedia-uber-capable (good for all their movie libraries!). Friendly and more ready for the desktop than most Linux distros. There was talk here yesterday asking AOL to "get their own OS" if they didn't like the icon placement on XP -- well, here's their chance.
    • AOL users want MS software (Office etc.) and Windows games. AOL would have to invest a lot of money into supporting all the hardware out there so that a typical installation works like Win98 / ME. I don't think they really want to shift their core business that much.
    • You're right. They paid $4B for Netscape, whose revenue now is probably comparable to Be's, and they get a lot more cool (and proprietary!) technology from Be... for 1/500th of the price.

      It's hard to know what AOL is really after, but here's one guess: An AOL-branded "internet access" computer. They'd give it away for free if you sign up for a year or two of AOL. I can see this campaign working, too. And the timing of this announcement is interesting. If AOL really do intend to do something like this, they realized in their recent talks with Microsoft that MS would never cooperate with them on a project like this.

    • Remember, Be tried to give BeOS away to OEMs (back in version 4.5), and nobody took them up on the offer. If OEMs aren't willing to load it for free, what good would it do AOLTW to have it?

      OS/2 would be a better choice for the high degree of Win32 API support added by Project Odin; selling OEMs on an OS that has a decent productivity suite (SmartSuite), the ability to run at least some Win32 programs as native programs, and is easy for Windows developers to port to/cross-develop for would be easier than selling them on BeOS. You might be able to give away free copies of OS/2 to supercheap-end OEMs.
  • My Bet... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by webmaven ( 27463 ) <webmavenNO@SPAMcox.net> on Friday August 03, 2001 @07:06PM (#2160636) Homepage
    is that it's Kodak.

    Why Kodak? because they were always about bringing the ability to create to the average joe. I don't think that it's too much of a strech to imagine them extending this philosophy to multimedia as well, especially after Microsoft started screwing [yahoo.com] them.

    Imagine BeOS based kiosks, digital cameras, digital videocameras... Not to mention a BeOS based set-top box that shows all those pictures and video clips...

    The possibilities are interesting.
  • Be's stock was up as much as 40% today at the news.

    Yeah, and it closed up 16% [yahoo.com] to FIFTY CENTS American, an increase of SEVEN CENTS. I could throw the change in my wallet at Be headquarters and their stock would rise 16%.

    The only reason I point this out is because I actually own stock in Be, Inc. I am not proud to say this.
  • What happened to all the trolls who claim Linux, GPL and Open source are the cause of companies going down the toilet? That closed source is a clearly superior model, after all, it worked for MS and Apple.

    Kind of hard to say that with a straight face after all the economic fallout of the last 6 months, and now the dwindling fortunes of the BeOS camp.

    BeOS is closed source, runs on i386, costs little, has decent reviews and Be still can't compete against MacroSoft -- no big corporations have adopted BeOS, no governments, no schools.

    I think the GPL and closed source are what is barely keeping Linux viable in the face of an egregious monopoly...the slide of BeOS shows it is MS, not IP issues or anything else, that is destroying the compute marketplace.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      and it's still a better desktop OS than Linux.
    • Bullshit!

      I am a be fan, but i dont use it exclusively for one reason and one reason only:

      Application support.


      The only fast browser doesnt even handle HTML 3.2 right, let along 4.0.

      The Office suite is an addon and not very useful.

      The other "free" apps are mostly lame weekend projects.


      Be never took off because the platform lacked developers. The developers never took off because of the lack of demand. Demand never too koff because no bought it pre-installed. They never preinstalled it because of licensing deals and the fact that no one knew about it.


      BeOS hoped to snag MacOS instead of Next, and they lost. Now they are fucked. Big loss. They made a product no one needed, and charged for it. Its a shame.
      • > I am a be fan, but i dont use it exclusively for > one reason and one reason only:
        >
        > Application support.

        > Be never took off because the platform lacked
        > developers.

        There are no quality applications for Be because there are no developers. There are no developers because there is no market share. It's a well-know catch-22, and the development model appears to have no real impact. You have merely stated the obvious...the real problem with monopoly power.

        Linux has applications and developers, mostly due to the GPL and Open Source, yet there is still little market share. It has had some government and corporate support, certainly more than Be, but nowhere near enough to be assured of any real future.

        I don't see how my post is "Bullshit!" when Be (or OS2 for that matter) never got anywhere near the developer base and applications that Linux has.

        The failure is not the model, it's the monopoly. Closed source can't compete with MS, open source might not compete with MS, and the anti-linux/anti-GPL zealots (presumably you are in that crowd) are going to have to eat crow on this one.

        Bon Appetit!

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