I just read the news today that Borland is going to sell it’s IDE Tools Business that includes Delphi, C++ Builder, C# Builder, JBuilder, Kylix and InterBase. Not more than 100 days on the job Tod Nielsen I shaking this up at Borland, just like I expected! As I’m a big advocate for "burning bridges" so-to-speak (see the eWeek article for the reference) I think this is exactly what Borland needs. Further, this is a possibility it will really be good for Delphi and other Borland tools faithful.
But the news leaves an interesting question: Who will buy, and what will be the fallout? The question interesteds me enough I decided to document me thoughts on the matter below:
- Oracle: Uncle Larry’s been on a buying spree lately; maybe he’ll pick up these Borland cast-offs too? Though Oracle has development tools they don’t have quite the devoted following that Borland’s tools have. Buying them would give Oracle some world class IDE tools and languages for programming Oracle. Of course InterBase users (are there any?) would certainly take it on the chin.
- Microsoft: Adding the Pascal language to Visual Studio by including Delphi would seem a natural to me, but everything else overlaps. Microsoft could of course provide an upgrade path for C++ Builder, C# Builder, JBuilder, and maybe even InterBase users, but Kylix users would be left out in the cold. Heck, they might even make a bid to keep anyone else from getting Kylix!
- Red Hat: Red Hat might be interested in tying up this product line, especially if they open source it, but since a lot of Borland’s line runs on Windows, its seems a longshot.
- SAP: This lumbering giant is seeing threats all around, from Oracle to SalesForce.com and they might use this toolset to give them some real programmability as compared to ABAP. Who knows which of the tools they’d use and which they’d kill. But then again, this one’s a longshot and it wouldn’t be great for the faithful.
- Sybase: Sybase could pick up the Borland IDEs for the same reason as Oracle, and they might not even kill InterBase, they’d probably just rename it "Sybase <something>." Of course, Sybase really is a second tier player and I don’t think purchasing these Borland assets would be great the faithful nor really do that much for Sybase’s databases.
- IBM: Given the broad reach, IBM might just buy the userbase and roll them into WebSphere somehow. IBM has always been able to consume practically anything. Maybe they will do this too?
- Sun: There’s a chance Scott will buy to pick up JBuilder and Kylix, and keep the rest out of other’s hands, but I doubt that’s likely.
- Novell: This one is interesting. With Borland’s IDEs Novell could go toe to toe with Microsoft Visual Studio but instead optimize for Mono. (I’ve always thought Novell should have purchased Borland years ago; maybe it will happen now.) This is one of the best scenarios I can see for all involved, but the fact that most of the tools heavily support Windows make me think it is not as likely I it would be interesting.
- SalesForce.com: Who’s got the most to gain? Me thinks is would be SalesForce.com. With his AppExchange strategy, Marc Benioff could grab the Borland toolset and optimize for programming SalesForce’s APIs. Marc could also use Interbase as an engine for local caching of SalesForce.com data. If Marc buys, it could be really good for the Borland IDE tools faithful. But Marc will only maximize benefit from such as purchase if he opens access to the API to ALL SalesForce.com customers, not just Enterprise Edition and up.
- Google: This one’s a wildcard; they certainly could afford it! With all their web services and APIs Google is offering, it would make great sense for them to offer a great set of developer tools to the mix; they’ve already shown a willingness to provide downloadable software with Google Pack. I can see it now; all of Borland’s products would be freely available for download from http://devtools.google.com; talk about marketshare! Microsoft, be afraid, be very afraid. This is probably the best option I can think of for the Borland IDE tools faithful and will further upset the balance of power between the Big M and the Big G.
- Amazon: Similar to Google, Amazon has lots of APIs it wants to offer; why not provide developer tools optimized for calling their APIs?
- eBay: Same rationale as Amazon.
Whew! That’s all I can think of right now, but it’s alot, no? I’d say the best three potentials would be Novell, SalesForce.com, and Google. I didn’t mean this to be an exhaustive list so if you have ideas for potential suitors I did not mention or if you think differently about one of the potential suitors then please by all means post your thoughts as a comment below.