Maybe things aren’t happening as fast as Unisys Corp’s subsidiary, Brisbane, California-based USoft Inc would like: the firm, which bills itself as The Server/Client Software Company, has just launched a free service, designed to do away with traditional approaches to marketing and selling, offering to build companies model applications, within 48 hours, using the rapid application development environment it got when it bought Amsterdam-based TopSystems International NV (CI No 2,602). USoft Developer is a repository-based development environment that uses business models to create an application, rather than programming code. Apparently, the largest application built to-date has 8,000 tables. The company said that already under the 48 hour offer it has been doing up to 100 ‘challenges’ a week in the US and that all the applications so developed have been successful. But president Michael Seashols was evasive about exactly how many companies had then gone on to buy the development environment, USoft Developer. He admitted it was not 100% and said this was because the people who had been shown the development tool’s capacity hadn’t necessarily had the authority to purchase, or there was no budget, or no immediate need for the applications. But he added that the 48 Hour Rapid Application Development Challenge, as this freebie is called, was a way of proving to those that control the purse strings, if actually pitching to them, that rapid application development tools can be used to build mission-critical applications, and as a way of speeding up time to market for USoft Developer. But he also admitted that by speeding up the marketing life cycle it was also a way of saving the company money. Of course, USoft is not offering this service to any old company. Those wanting to challenge the company must be able to deliver 10 to 15 tables for the planned application; the model may be built using software engineering tools, or a paper-based method; the planned application should be complex and busin ess critical, not a departmental one; the company has to provide an overview of business processes, rules and limitations; and two people from the company have to be able to work with USoft over the 48 hours. Of course, the free challenge might be seen as a gimmick to push the company’s product, but USoft said it is doing good business: turnover has doubled each quarter this year and TopSystems had monthly revenues of $1m when it was bought.