Oracle cans HatTrick, Lotus moves to take the glory

Another productivity application bit the dust this month, this time Oracle's HatTrick will join Corel's Office in the Java junk yard, according to Oracle officials. 'We're not in the productivity applets business,' said Oracle PR chief Dan Berkowitz. Meanwhile at JavaOne this week in San Francisco, Lotus is expected take the glory detailing its eSuite DevPack.

Another productivity application bit the dust this month, this time Oracle's HatTrick will join Corel's Office in the Java junk yard, according to Oracle officials.

"We're not in the productivity applets business," said Oracle PR chief Dan Berkowitz.

Meanwhile at JavaOne this week in San Francisco, Lotus is expected take the glory detailing its eSuite DevPack. The product lets developers drop eSuite Java applets -- including word processor, spreadsheet, chart, presentation graphics, project scheduler, and a set of data access applets -- into their Web applications. DevPack will be priced at $1,495.

Lotus is also expected to announce that the $49 eSuite WorkPlace desktop is available for Sun's JavaStation.

To date, Java client applications have been disappointingly poor, dashing market expectations and hindering the potential growth of the network computer market, according to analysts.

While IBM and Sun are expected to release at JavaOne their Java-based NCs running the JavaOS, there are few applications to run on them, apart from eSuite.

"There is little doubt that the Java productivity applications market has gone a whole lot slower than was originally anticipated," said Steve Tirado, director of product marking for Sun's Java Systems Group. "But I think that the death of the NC story is premature."

Meanwhile Oracle is also expected to announce at JavaOne that Lotus' eSuite is available as a customer option for both InterOffice and its Network Computer division NC Desktop.

Oracle may also may opt for a solution from some of the smaller vendors, such as the Oslo, Norway-based SevenMountains Technology (http://www.sevenmountains.com) or Orem, Utah-based Digital Harbor (http://www.digitalharbor.com), according to sources close to the company.

While Oracle is killing its HatTrick, project, industry watchers also wonder what will become of Sun's $23 million investment in OpenStep productivity application vendor Lighthouse Design.

Sun insiders say the company is trying to avoid the mistake that Corel made by providing large Java applications on the client and is therefore decoupling the Lighthouse word processor, spreadsheet, presentation system, and database so they can be offered as stand-alone applets.

But still, since 1996 when Sun bought Lighthouse, the productivity applet company has not been very productive.

Separately, Sun's Java Applications Division will release mail, calendaring, and rolodex applications according to Tirado.

"These will be released with the JavaStation at the end of this month," he said.

Another Java productivity application vendor, Cooper & Peters, died a different death, having being bought by Microsoft last year. Needless to say, no products have emerged.

"We did not make this acquisition for the products but for the people," said Charles Fitzgerald, Microsoft's group product manager for platform marketing. "They are working on products that we are not ready to talk about yet."

The "spectacular failures" in this space have left good picking for some of the smaller vendors.

At JavaOne, Digital Harbor is set to release its WAV is a desktop JavaBean Application Container. WAV enables non-developers to build desktop applications using JavaBeans by dropping them into its application container.

Similarly, AlphaBlox (http://www.alphablox.com) provides an application container that enables the "Lego-like" building of applications. However, the company is targeting the enterprise resource planning applications market according to sources.

SevenMountains Technology is also building a set of productivity applications on top of SilverStream's application server technology.

Meanwhile, Hamburg, Germany-based Star Division (http://www.stardivision.com ) will demonstrate its Star Office at the show. Star Division is also close to producing an rewrite of its applications in Java.

Sun Microsystems Inc., in Mountain View, Calif., can be reached at http://www.sun.com. Oracle Corp. is based in Redwood Shores, Calif., and can be contacted at http://www.oracle.com. Lotus Development Corp. is based in Cambridge, Mass., and can be reached at http://www.lotus.com/.

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