Right on targIT
Tuesday 10. June 2003 kl. 10:43

FUD you too!


FUD is definitely in these days. For new readers within IT, FUD is short for fear, uncertainty and doubt and is the practice of spreading these three words about your competitors' products to ensure that your products seem better.

FUD has a long history. In IT, IBM has traditionally been known to have started this practice. These days, most people think Microsoft when they hear FUD. And Microsoft is doing a good job in this area.

Especially with Linux has Microsoft been active with FUD. The Halloween documents first mentioned this strategy against Linux, and Ballmer of Microsoft has called Linux a cancer, while Bill Gates has said it is a threat to intellectual property. Both FUD can also hit Microsoft, the current master in FUDding.

The last move in FUDding Linux did not come from Microsoft, although the company was not late to welcome the chance. SCO Linux, a company on the verge of bankruptcy, claimed that parts of the Linux kernel was copied from their Unix code. They sued IBM claiming copyright violation, etc. Note that they went after a company with deep pockets instead of Red Hat Linux or some similar company, thus underlining analysts' claim that this was a desparate attempt to make some money or be taken over by IBM or some other company wanting to close this case.

This caused a lot of noise in the environment. Instead of clearly presenting evidence of what parts of the code that was copied, this evidence was supposed to be presented later, and under an nda. IBM and others fought back: a court in Germany denied SCO the possibility of advertising their claims, since they could not be proved to be true. Likewise, SCO may soon be sued for presenting unsupported claims, if they don't present tangible evidence for their claims. Furthermore, Novell came out saying they own the intellectual property that SCO claims has been infringed. As of now, nobody knows if there really has been any copying of code. In other words, there is just a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt about the Linux code.

And that is just what Microsoft likes. The company went in and licenced SCO's code to give credibility to the company and its claims and thus undermine Linux. This is FUDding at its best. One must give Microsoft credit for this excellent move.

So far the SCO Linux case. Microsoft is however now trying its own medicine. This is in the place of mobile phones, where Microsoft is trying to push its SmartPhone into the market. The company made a deal with British Sendo to have them make the hardware for their software. This project ended last fall in termination of the cooperation and the companies suing each other. After this, Taiwanese HTC made the hardware for a SmartPhone that the mobile operator Orange is now selling in selected European countries.

Now Sendo is suing Orange for patent infringement. This has really nothing to do Orange as such, not even HTC, the maker of the phone, but instead Microsoft. By presenting this lawsuit, Sendo spreads fear, uncertainty and doubt among operators that they will get into trouble if they sell the MS Smartphone. This is another front opening in the court battle between Sendo and Micrsoft, and the message from Sendo is: "Give us a fair compensation or we will make your existence in the mobile phone business miserable".

It will be interesting to see how Microsoft - and the rest of the market - react to this. Will Sendo's claims win as widespread appeal as SCO's claims have? What will analysts tell operators to do? What will the operators themselves do? This is an interesting business to be in...

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