Thursday 19 January 2006

Samsung Contact, 2001-2005. RIP.

Samsung SDS quietly announced the premature end of life of Samsung Contact, its Unix/Linux-based Exchange alternative. It passed away peacefully in its sleep in December.

Back in 2001, Samsung licensed the source code for OpenMail from HP. Stuart Barry and I built what was to all intents and purposes a startup. Our aim was to provide a migration path for HP's installed base, open up new markets for an Exchange alternative, and add unified messaging functionality.

Initial indications were positive. The Samsung management seemed willing to invest in the business, and ran the UK-based Contact business unit as an essentially separate entity -- almost as if Samsung was its VC. However, in 2002 there was a management change in Samsung and the new guard felt unwilling to fund Contact at the previous level, even though we were hitting our profitability goals in a poor business climate.

Since then, the team steadily shrunk, as it hemorrhaged talent -- notably to its main competitor in the Exchange alternative market, Scalix. I could take no more by September 2003, and struck out on my own.

It's a shame. I always had a soft spot for HP OpenMail, which held a significant proportion of the large enterprise market in its heyday. We had a fine, UK based team at our beautiful Pinewood office, nestled in Berkshire woodland. However, Scalix carries on the torch, its server also being based on the OpenMail code.

No flowers please.

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