WP Windows is selling well again
- March 17, 2005
WordPerfect Selling Well, Thank You Very Much
Under the guidance of Corel CEO Amish Mehta, WordPerfect
has rebounded from past difficulties.
By T.C. Doyle
Courtesy of VARBusiness
It has been 10 years since the then WordPerfect Corp. made
the fateful decision not to have a version of its flagship
word-processing package ready when Microsoft unveiled
Windows 95. The good folks in Orem, Utah, resigned
themselves to the idea that they could not have a
graphically updated version ready in time, so they focused
their energies on perfecting a version for DOS instead. Big
As everyone knows, Microsoft won the office-suite
productivity war, and WordPerfect, which was later bought
by Corel, has never fully recovered.
That's until lately. Under Corel, WordPerfect initially
floundered. But in the past few years and under the
guidance of Corel CEO Amish Mehta, WordPerfect has
rebounded surprisingly well. Corel has strung together five
consecutive quarters of profitability and begun growing
revenue again. Mehta took over the company after it was
acquired by San Francisco-based Vector Capital Group in
August 2003. He chalks up his success to good management, a
sound product plan and a heavy reliance on the channel. He
also has a strategy that is unique in several ways and may
just yet prove that there is life after the world's most
successful software company pounds you into
As it celebrates its 20th anniversary, the Ottawa,
Canada-based company, best known for the CorelDraw
GraphicsSuite, the WordPerfect Office Suite and the Corel
Painter Natural-Media package, believes its future will be
secure if it focuses on the small-to midsize business market
and users, positions itself as the smart alternative, doubles
down on bets in digital-photography software and continues
to make inroads into the VAR channel.
The SMB market is a no-brainer for Corel, whose products
boast many of the same features as products from Microsoft
or Adobe, but cost anywhere between 30 percent to 60
percent less. Stepping up as the alternative to Microsoft
and Adobe is also a shrewd move for the company. Mehta
believes VARs and customers alike have grown weary of
Microsoft's security problems, licensing issues and lack of
openness. As for digital photography, the market
opportunity is virtually unlimited as businesses and
customers alike embrace digital cameras.
Regarding the channel, Mehta says his growth rates in the
VAR channel are upward of 20 percent in the past year. He
has authorized his lieutenants to double the amount of
people they hire to help partners and commit more money to
supporting and rewarding VAR allies.
Now, Mehta believes the turnaround is complete and that
Corel is poised to be a robust growth company once more. In
fact, he notes, Corel could double or triple the amount of
business it does in Office productivity software and not
make a dent in Microsoft's market share.
With all the company has going for it, it's somewhat
ironic that Mehta attributes his recent success to what
he's not doing as much as to what he is doing. For example,
when he took over, Corel was trying to operate in as many
as 13 different market segments with various products. Way
too many, he concluded. He focused the company on core
assets and winnowed his key product lines to three.
But one key task remains to be explored: a new CEO. A
financier at heart, Mehta is moving on soon. The move has
been well-planned and well-known for some time. But it does
raise some uncertainty about the company. After all that it
has been through, Corel still has work to do.
- Thanks for sharing the article.
I have to take issue, though, with what IMHO is a misleading take on
the history of WP's demise: The issue was less technical - who had
the first GUI Windows word processor than it was Microsoft's
understanding of how to exploit their Windows position to push their
applications software via computer sellers:
'You want our Windows? OK, the terms are:
(1) You pay a Windows license for every computer you sell,
whether you ship it with Windows or OS/2 or DOS.
(2) For Windows, you get out Word/Office bundle.'
(1) killed OS/2. [OEM: Why pay for OS/2 when I'm already paying for Windows?]
(2) killed WP. [User: Why pay for WP when I already have Word?]
Microsoft has always won by understanding that good marketing - even
if it means skirting the anti-trust laws - beats good products. WP
was in a period when the product was less good than it could have
been, for reasons having much to do with its earlier success. Word
was, however, much more the beneficiary of great, if predatory,
BTW, when Mr Doyle mentions that "The SMB market is a no-brainer for
Corel [WP]", I presume he means the market of office productivity
applications that are served by Windows Server. Is that the way you
read "SMB market"?
- --- In email@example.com, John Kaufmann <kaufmann@n...
> I have to take issue, though, with what IMHO is aYou're right, but I've heard that MS exploited their
> misleading take on the history of WP's demise: The issue
> was less technical - who had the first GUI Windows word
> processor than it was Microsoft's understanding of how to
> exploit their Windows position to push their applications
position on the technical side too, as in a version of
Windows wasn't ready to ship until it made WP and Lotus
crash. Just what I've heard, but a fascinating possibility.
> Microsoft has always won by understanding that goodThey've always had the best advertising I've ever seen. WP
> marketing - even if it means skirting the anti-trust laws
> - beats good products.
had some of the worst.
I think WP was especially good at listening to its customers,
and the depth of implementation of most features was better
than the competition. One mistake WP made was not starting
Windows development early and earnestly enough; another
was in advertising. Reminded me of AT&T after the breakup:
quality products, which they didn't know how to sell.
The first WP Mac ad I remember had three guys all wearing
that party-gag disguise with the mustache and bushy
eyebrows glued on to the glasses rims, and the text gave
the reader an address to write to (this was pre-web) for
information on why he or she should use WP. The next ad I
remember had a woman sitting on the floor, typing at a Mac
that was also on the floor. Her hair style, makeup and clothes
suggested she had a boyfriend who carried his Marlboros
rolled up in the sleeve of his T-shirt and wore a baseball cap
with a Budweiser logo. Nice people to be sure, but not the
best examples for advertising a serious writing tool. In any
case, the woman would not have been able to write for very
long, there on the floor, without getting a sore back. And we
must all remember the "used to play a tuba" ads, until WP
stopped running them after complaints from players of that
By contrast, MS advertising is superb. A memorable ad for
Word showed three people on the steps of a public building.
Their names mentioned in the text, and certain features of
clothes and architecture, suggested northern Europe. The
two older people clearly thought for a living, and were
good at it. Their faces reflected depth and care. The
younger person with them has not lived as they have, but
his face showed intelligence, interest and seriousness of
purpose. They of course used Word and the ad, rather than
giving the reader an address to write to in order to learn
why, articulately and persuasively explained why.
WP may have been like AT&T in more ways than advertising.
They got into the market early, made good products and
became a household word. Then the market changed faster
than the company realized.
- On Apr 25, 2005, at 8:01 PM, John Rethorst wrote:
> You're right, but I've heard that MS exploited their"It ain't done till Lotus won't run." was how I heard it. Apocryphal?
> position on the technical side too, as in a version of
> Windows wasn't ready to ship until it made WP and Lotus
> crash. Just what I've heard, but a fascinating possibility.