Cowpland will launch new company

Former Corel head Dr. Michael Cowpland is taking his love for Linux to the next level – in the form of a fledgling company.

This new company will focus on building wireless applications on the Linux OS.

Eid Eid, president and CEO of Hull, Que.-based OEone, will partner his company’s technology with Cowpland’s vision.

“There is not a company yet,” Eid said. “It’s still just in the planning stages. We know what we want to do, but we don’t know exactly where Mike’s mind is, although he is very excited by wireless and Linux. That hasn’t changed since he left Corel, that devotion to Linux.”

Eid, a former Corel executive, said he and Cowpland have always been interested in each other’s ideas. “We get together and talk about new technologies and exciting trends, and this idea came as a result of that.”

OEone develops an operating environment that is an integration of Linux on the browser and other open-source technologies on the back end.

He noted that the company is now developing a framework to deliver user device software on the Internet. “The computing device will look like an appliance and come preconfigured with an integrated suite of software. The user does not have to be aware that there is Linux running underneath,” Eid said.

The next step is to develop a framework that will bridge the gap between personal portals and wireless, according to Eid.

Zim Technologies International Inc. will also partner with Cowpland’s company in an effort to get legacy applications to interface with wireless devices.

Blake Batson, president and CEO of Ottawa’s ZTI, said this company will support the development environment. “Our push is to say, ‘Listen if you’ve got an application out there that you want to have people access, it doesn’t matter if it’s a PC or a Palm Pilot, we’re going to give you the software to develop that type of application or add on to a current application.”

Batson added they are proposing to offer this service through a WAP or WML server or gateway residing within the organization.

“Linux is ideal for that,” he said. “But we’re not limited to Linux.”

Kevin Restivo, an analyst with IDC Canada, expects this new company will be successful. “The start-up environment seems to suit Cowpland’s strengths, which is running with ideas.”

He noted that like any start-up, this company is going to take many different forms and shapes. “I think they are trying to keep the theme on Linux,” he said, adding that as an operating system it is really starting to make a name for itself.

Restivo noted that this is probably not a way for Cowpland to buy back Corel’s struggling Linux line.

“I would think that if anything, this company would work in conjunction with Corel,” he said.

Batson agreed, noting the directions of the two companies will be very different, as far as market space. “I think the wireless development market space is ripe for the picking,” Batson said.

Restivo stated one problem that the new company could have is the same that many Linux OS companies face – making money from an open-source, readily-available product.

According to Eid, Cowpland plans to launch the company sometime this year.