The future of Asian-language software development is uncertain now that Claris is dumping its Hong Kong and Asian offices to set up headquarters in Sydney. This move follows Apple's recent announcement that it is restructuring its Claris subsidiary and renaming it FileMaker (see ARN February 4, 1998, Pg 3).
After the scheduled February and April restructuring deadlines for Claris' US and international offices, the renamed FileMaker subsidiary will focus exclusively on the FileMaker Pro line of database software and the HomePage Web site development package, while its other products will be divested. Claris officials said Apple will resume responsibility for ClarisWorks and other Apple-branded software, including the Mac OS 8.
The restructuring has already taken its toll on 300 Claris employees worldwide in sales, marketing and ClarisWorks development. After seeing his four-man Hong Kong-based team made redundant, Ker Gibbs, managing director for Claris Asia, said he intends to stay until the final April 1 restructuring deadline.
Gibbs was unable to comment on the fate of Asian-language support and development for FileMaker software once the outfit moves to Sydney, nor the future of ClarisWorks and other Apple-branded software when it reverts back to Apple. Industry analysts speculate that Apple is phasing out its software line, making Claris' fate under Apple's wing uncertain.
"Apple looks like it's becoming more of a hardware company," said Rob Enderle, a Giga Information Group analyst. "I think they're going to be looking to Microsoft more and more to complete the software line."
One FileMaker Pro and Claris HomePage user was undaunted when she heard the news, although she is concerned about pricing. "This may affect our ability to have a discount," said Angela Castro, the resource officer for the University of Hong Kong.