"You'll have to be born again to beat me," is an oft-heard colloquialism, normally mouthed by the victor offering condolences to the vanquished. The world's largest software company –- or even Bill Gates –- may not have heard of that idiomatic expression, but it sure's going to hear about a reborn rival.
But first, flashback to 1997.
A group of techies writing applications for Apple Inc, founded a start-up called GoBeSoftware Inc.
One year later, the geeks released their first product called GoBE Productive that promised to be much more than what the Microsoft Office was.
But those were the days when competition was white-hot among global contenders such as LotusSmartSuite, Open Office, Star Office, Word Perfect and even AppleWorks, a brainchild of the very same techies.
It was not long GoBe turned has-been.
Backed by new investors, a new team and deeper pockets, GoBe Productive is now back with a vengeance promising to shake up the Office space.
Blue Lotus Software Solutions Pvt Ltd, the new company founded by a clutch of new investors and with equity participation by GoBe Corporation, has launched the product again from India.
GoBe is a five-in-one –- there is a word processor, graphics, spreadsheet, image-processing and presentation software.
Unlike the MS Office, GoBe has everything in the same window; there is no need to click open different applications.
Also, GoBe is not a diskspace-sucker: it takes up just 20MB to load, and just 48MB of RAM to run. The Office XP needs a minimum 210MB diskspace and 128MB RAM.
"Microsoft, which commands 90 per cent of this market, is our main competition and it is invited to the party," said Bart S Fisher, co-founder and chairman.
"We have access to a lot of money and there is a tremendous amount of resources behind us in this project," he added.
GoBe's features apart, its pricing is the USP that Blue Lotus is banking up on to give Microsoft a run for its money.
The MS Office ranges from $149 for the home and student edition to whopping $679 for the Ultimate edition in the US on eBay.
GoBe Productive is being sold at one-twentieth the price: Rs 1,250 or $31 per licence in India. It is likely to be priced similarly in the US where it is slated for launch within 60-90 days.
"We want to remove the onerous price competition and we are inviting Microsoft to the party," Fisher said, adding, "there was no conflict between being the cheapest in the market and the best."
While currently it is available for the Windows operating system in a few months it will also be out on Java so that it is compatible on Linux and Apple iMac, said CEO Venkat Kumar Tangirala.
"In about six months, we are hoping to sell at least a million copies," added Tangirala who completes the Indian side of the picture for GoBe. Initial responses have been very encouraging and a few orders have already been received, he said.
Tangirala is looking to push the productivity suite to educational institutions, government organisations as also individuals.
In India the company is talking to ACI Asia and HCL Technologies, which recently announced the launch of the world's cheapest laptop Mileap X and Y, priced around Rs14,000.
The Indian angle is crucial to GoBe's success, holds Fisher.
"Before we invested in the company and we did an analysis of why it failed in the earlier instance. Based on the findings we decided we needed Indian involvement in the project."
Currently there are 15 engineers supporting the product from India and this number will go up to 50 soon, added Tangirala. GoBe is just the beginning of the battle for Blue Lotus with Microsoft.
Blue Lotus is already planning for its next foray and is negotiating to buy out the BEOS operating system from the promoters of BE Inc, which was the original owner of GoBe Productive, but were driven to bankruptcy as they were unable to compete with Microsoft.
In 2003, Be and Microsoft opted for an out-of-court settlement on the anti-trust suite slapped by the former after Microsoft agreed to pay up $23 million to end further litigation.
"We are in discussions to acquire the BEOS and hope to close the deal soon," Fisher said.