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Borland bounces back in style

Now stop calling yourself Inprise...

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It's been widely assumed that because Inprise/Borland almost succumbed to Corel's caper, it must be awaiting another suitor. But a glance at its Q2 results shows that the venerable tools maker still knows which way is up in the developers' world, so maybe it's not.

The company delivered a 16 per cent increase in revenue (to $47 million - compared with a loss of $10 million in the year-earlier quarter). Net income was $2 million, with the cash pile not only still intact, but increased to $244 million, mostly as a result of the sale of the Scotts Valley campus in March. The Q2 results are being described as a "turning point".

Of course any company must be for sale at the right price, because of the fiduciary duty that directors have to shareholders, but Borland seems to have no need to merge with anybody at present. The atmosphere is one in which it has products to sell, rather than being itself for sale, and it is well-positioned to profit from e-business development.

At the annual meeting yesterday, interim president and CEO Dale Fuller was given a 95 per cent vote of confidence for a further three year term on the board.

Also announced yesterday was open-source Interbase 6, with free binaries for Linux, Solaris and Windows. An interesting twist on the Mozilla Public License being used is that developers are allowed to modify the code or develop applications without the requirement of open sourcing them, which looks like a shrewd move. Interbase's small footprint and fairly easy maintenance is proving to be attractive to developers.

Delphi 5 also seems to be proving of increased interest, since unlike Visual Basic - which locks developers into the Windows platform - Delphi makes it possible to write now and decide later about the platform. The clincher could well be Borland's Kylix project, a RAD tool that makes it possible to write for Linux and port to Windows: it comes with Delphi and C++Builder.

If there's anything that does need sorting out, it's the dual name of the company: perhaps it's time to drop Inprise in favour of Borland, which is what everybody seems to call it anyway. ®

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