Borland: League UnderdogBy Baselinemag | Posted 2005-08-04 Print
Borland Software has fans, but some customers say it hasn't outlined a road map well and has rushed products out the door.
If Borland were a baseball team, it would have a group of die-hard, paint-your-face fans. But some of those customers would have to admit that the company is not fielding a World Series contender anymore.
Borland's sales have slid latelyand a head has rolled. In July, CEO Dale Fuller, a former Apple Computer executive who had run the company since 1999, resigned after the company announced that revenue for the second quarter of 2005 would be as much as 11% lower than expected.
Some customers think one big problem is that Borland hasn't explained its strategy well. "They don't have a public road map," says Brion L. Webster, programmer analyst with the city of Fresno, Calif. "With Borland, you know they're going somewhere, but you don't know where."
For example, Webster says, Borland hasn't provided news on the status of the next version of Kylix, a development tool for Linux applications, in several months. (A Borland spokeswoman says that while the company has historically kept product plans "close to the vest for competitive reasons," it will be more forthcoming in the future.)
Others say Borland has rushed out products before they were fully baked. The version of Delphi 2005 the company released in the fall of 2004 crashed frequently, says Mark McHenney, director of enterprise information systems at First Trust Portfolios, an investment management firm: "They should take the high road instead of putting their user base through the extra work of finding bugs and installing patches."
On the other hand, Borland's JBuilder Java development system has been "very robust," says Kelvin Burton, chief technology officer of health-care charity Mercy Ships. "We've never had to go to their technical support and say, 'This doesn't work.'"
Borland has tried to expand beyond its roots as primarily a programming-tools vendor with a suite of "software-delivery optimization" products for handling the entire life cycle of an application, from requirements gathering to code deployment.
But Borland is facing increasingly tough pitching from its two huge rivals, IBM and Microsoft. "I really get the feeling that Borland is getting squeezed by the direction Microsoft is going," says Ben Hull, senior programmer at Comtrak Logistics, a trucking firm that has used Delphi since 1998. Here's what should worry Borland: Hull says that if Comtrak had to start developing software from scratch today, it would probably pick Microsoft's .NET tools instead.
Borland operating results*
* Fiscal year ends Dec. 31; YTD reflects first three months
Source: Company reports
Total assets - $513.34M
Stockholders' - equity $371.99M
Cash and equivalents - $78.28M
Short-term investments - $152.45M
Long-term debt - None
Shares outstanding - 81.59M
Market value, 7/25 - $497.26M
**As of March 31, 2005, except as noted
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