Tuesday, January 23

Turning A Corner: SCO

If you ever wondered whether there is a point of no return — a time when you lose control of your message forever — SCO might provide the answer. The company's primary message has been so public and so narrow for so long, it's difficult for anyone to see past it.

Sure, CEO Darl McBride wants people to look at SCO's new product releases — UnixWare and OpenServer, and the fledgling Me Inc. suite of mobile messaging applications. I don't blame him, but it's too little too late because everyone else wants to talk about what SCO wanted to talk about in 2003: its ongoing (and failing) lawsuits with IBM and Novell. Some journalists, like Bob Mims of The Salt Lake Tribune, even define the company this way: "SCO, best known for its ongoing US $5 billion federal lawsuit alleging that IBM leaked proprietary Unix code into Linux..."

From a communication standpoint, this illustrates why, sometimes, you have to be careful what you wish for. In 2003, McBride wanted the world to know that "SCO is in the enviable position of owning the UNIX operating system." But that was the year that SCO had so much news, it issued about 90 news releases and its "News About The SCO Group" page had at least that many entries. By comparison, in 2006, it issued about 30 new releases, but only a paltry five stories are included in the "News About The SCO Group" section, probably because all the rest are unfavorable and about the lawsuits.

Over at LWN.net, for example, the editor summed up a recent SCO conference call as: The answer is somewhat unsurprising: more of the same, with the main point being that SCO claims to own the Unix copyrights and believes that Novell is "trying to curry favor with the Linux community" by pressing its claims. SCO believes it will prevail on this point.

No, it isn't surprising, primarily because SCO has wrapped itself up so tightly in lawsuit communication, its executive team can no longer help themselves. You see, the conference call began with a statement that they would not talk about the lawsuit. But, of course, that was exactly what it was primarily about, with exception to some details about declining revenues and workforce reductions, which everyone except SCO seems to think is linked to, well, you guessed it, the lawsuit.

Which brings me back to the idea of reaching the point of no return. If SCO loses the lawsuit, assuming it can continue to operate with ever-diminishing returns, it seems to me it will be sunk. If, on the other hand, prevailing opinion is wrong, and somehow it wins the lawsuit, then it will forever be linked to winning a lawsuit no one seems to want it to win.

Ho hum. Sometimes when you win, you lose anyway. And that, to me, is the point of no return. You can have your day in court, but it's a short day when winning costs everything else. Addictions are like that.

2 comments:

Rich on 1/24/07, 8:41 AM said...

Famous Last Words:

According to Groklaw, which has the latest on this case, SCO's Mark James said he accepted that there was no destruction of code (but now claims evidence of programmers' reliance on software, which itself contained some SCO-owned Unix code, in its development of Linux).

Translation: We don't really have the case we said we had, but all we have left is the case ... so let's go forward anyway.

Rich on 4/27/07, 4:13 PM said...

Update:

The SCO Group, Inc. announced it has received a Nasdaq Staff Deficiency Letter. — Yahoo Finance

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