In Strategic Shift, BeOS to Be Free

Be Inc. today said it would make the next version of its Be operating system free as part of a new strategy, also announced today, to focus on the Internet appliance market.

Version 5 of the BeOS desktop operating system will be available later this quarter for free to noncommercial users, according to Steve Sakoman, Be's co-founder and newly appointed chief operating officer.

"In order to promote our technology, we decided to make a free version," Sakoman said. "We do this to raise the visibility of the company."

Users who register with Be at http://free.be.com will be able to download the software for free, and Be will also work with publishers and others to make commercial versions of BeOS 5 available through customary retail channels, the company said.

The decision to give away BeOS 5 will mean Be's revenue for 2000 will take a major hit, since the company's desktop OS sales constitute around 85 percent of its revenue, Sakoman said.

"We're forgoing short-term revenues to pursue a bigger, longer-term opportunity," Sakoman said.

That opportunity is named Stinger. The remaining 15 percent of revenue in 2000 will come from the anticipated sales of Stinger, Be's software platform for Internet appliances, Sakoman said.

Last month, Be announced a licensing agreement with Compaq Computer Corp. to let Compaq install the Be software platform on Compaq's Internet appliances.

[See, "Be OS To Run on Compaq 'Net Appliances," Dec. 20.] Stinger will be formally rolled out later this quarter, according to Be.

Be, which is already a public company, is also considering filing a secondary offering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, according to Sakoman, who declined to comment further on this announcement.

Be Inc., in Menlo Park, California, can be reached at +1-650-462-4100, or at http://www.be.com/

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