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Be IPO based on set-top box role for BeOS

Fortune 'reveals' what we said back in March

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Be, developer of the self-styled 'media' operating system, BeOS, is to go public. According to unnamed Be shareholders, cited by Fortune, the company is on the verge of filing its IPO plans with the Securities and Exchange Commission. One of those shareholders will be Chipzilla, which already owns a stake in the OS developer. Fortune's take on the deal is that Be is about to redefine itself as a provider of information appliance operating systems, and thus persuade today's Net stock hungry investors that it should be viewed as a good buy alongside eBay, Amazon et al. The BeOS is a kernel-based operating system, so it's certainly feasible that the company could strip away all the stuff required to make the OS run on Macs and Wintel boxes to come up with a form factor suitable for appliances. And, given it was originally designed for Power Macs, that might make a cut-down BeOS a candidate for embedded PowerPC applications (see IBM-Moto PowerPC deal isn't dead -- honest). An embedded role might well tempt Be as it struggles to win the support of Windows users fed up with Microsoft product but not techie enough to tackle Linux. That's the approach Be took a little while back when it became clear it wasn't winning converts away from the MacOS. The problem for Be is that no matter how good your OS is -- and BeOS is good -- unless you offer good hardware support and can host a good range of applications, you're in trouble. Linux has won here by winning widespread user support and offering plenty of server apps. Be has to pull something really impressive out of the bag to change that. An Internet appliance role, as we predicted back in March, a wee while before Fortune got on the trail, might just provide the surprise Be needs. For Be as a company, meanwhile, an IPO would help it to add to the $40 million of venture capital funding and CEO Jean-Louis Gassee's redundancy money from Apple that it has already spent developing BeOS. ® See also MS is balkanising Windows, says Be's Gassee Be readies BeOS 4.5, consumer drive MS licences block Be's bid for PC market Intel to buy into Be

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