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September 22, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

With Oracle Corp poised to make a series of announcements for mobile computer users next week (see related story), rival Sybase Inc took the stage yesterday to unveil a new division dedicated to porting its database technology to new, emerging markets. The Emeryville, California-based database software vendor said its new Mobile and Embedded Computing (MEC) division was set up to take advantage of the increasing convergence of enterprise IT systems with remote wireless and mobile device technology. It will operate as a completely autonomous unit, with separate profit and loss responsibility, dedicated research and development, sales and marketing and channel and customer support teams, all taken from Sybase’s existing workforce. The division, approximately 100 people strong, will be led by VP and general manager Terry Stepien, who was key in the initial development of the company’s small footprint database technology. The company also used the opportunity to announce the transition of John Chen to CEO (CI No 3,500). Chen previously shared the title with Mitchell Kertzman, who will remain chairman of Sybase’s board of directors. Chen told ComputerWire: We see applications moving more and more into mobile and embedded systems, so we decided it was time to put all our sales, marketing and product focus right there. Chen said the division, which comes into effect as of today, would continue to roll out Sybase’s mobile database and replication technology, included in its SQL Anywhere Studio, as well as launching the next generation product, UltraLite, by the end of the year. He added that UltraLite would also be the first mobile version of its database available for 3Com’s Palm Pilot platform and Microsoft’s Windows CE operating system. The current software only works on laptop PCs. The announcement comes in the same week as rival giant software vendor Oracle announces a mobile version of its Oracle Lite database. But Chen denied that the timing of Sybase’s news was intended to upstage Oracle, saying the two announcements were in different leagues. Why is a BMW better than a Ford? he said, I just don’t know what to say. We are clearly the market leaders in mobile databases; we’ve got three million mobile seats out there and 350 partners worldwide. You can’t compare us. He added that Sybase will announce another handheld partner today, but declined to give any specifics. As regards how much revenue he expected the new division to draw in, Chen said it was too early to say, although he added that the key focus was fast growth. He said the company expects to be able to give break out revenues for the group by the first quarter of 1999. Although he confirmed Sybase was still focusing on three core markets; datawarehousing, mobile and embedded markets and emerging web industries, Chen said the company would outline a detailed blueprint of how it intended to run the business and continue to grow profits. In July this year (CI No 3,454) the company announced its first profitable quarter after a two-year long slump. Chen said one of the reasons for setting up the new division was to ensure Sybase continued to make profits from here on in.

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