Corel Pins Hopes on WordPerfect

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-05-10 Print this article Print

The plan is to become once again a force in the desktop arena, with the help of increased funding to boost WordPerfect's growth rate and market share and leverage its 17 million users.

Corel Corp.s new owners are turning to that old standby, WordPerfect Office, to lead the company back, but its going to take a lot to convince the industry.

The Ottawa company, which was sold to San Francisco-based Vector Capital last summer, is now being run by Amish Mehta, a Vector Capital principal. The plan is to become once again a force in the desktop arena, with the help of increased funding to boost WordPerfects growth rate and market share and leverage its 17 million users.

But some users have been alienated by the roller-coaster ride in Corels fortunes over the past few years and its lack of focus on WordPerfect, which they saw as one of its mainstay products. Some have turned instead to Sun Microsystems Inc.s StarOffice or OpenOffice.orgs free distribution.

Click here to find out why Rob Enderle believes WordPerfect Office is the real No. 2 office suite.
Matthew Rice, a partner at Starnix Inc., of Thornhill, Ontario, said Corel will have to show long-term commitment to its products. "They will have to pick their user niches very carefully," Rice said. "They just cannot compete toe-to-toe with Microsoft [Corp.] at this point."

Corel has learned from past mistakes and will not be pursuing a line of Linux-based products until demand is there, said Mehta. While there is a lot of interest centered on Linux, particularly from governments, he said that "in two to three years out, we anticipate it to be a more meaningful source of revenue [for Corel]. But we are now fighting the Linux culture and the expectation that things should be free, as well as the immaturity of the Linux platform, which will change as more customers demand alternatives to Microsoft products."

Rice disputes that, saying Linux users are buying, and Corel has to be serious about WordPerfect on Linux and offer more than the current "proof of concept" version it is selling. "One of my customers moving from Microsoft Office chose to buy 1,000 copies of StarOffice rather than go to the free distribution," Rice said.

Corel has sold off or closed many of its other divisions and products in the past six to nine months to focus its resources on its WordPerfect and CorelDraw Graphics divisions. "We are now a 450-person company focused on these two product lines," Mehta said.

Next page: Corels target WordPerfect market.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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