Tracker back on track

Tracker back on track

It's been five years since Multiactive Software purchased the once-popular Australian software icon Tracker Software. Now Tracker's original founder Paul Dodd is back, and set to launch a new contact database application, Contact Tracker, with a little help from his old mate Roger Bushell.

Bushell, the former Ingram Micro and CHA executive, has joined Vital Software in a consulting role to help launch Contract Tracker, Vital Software's new challenger in the contact management market.

The original Tracker product was widely embraced throughout Australia and indeed the world, with Italian, Spanish, German, French, and Japanese language versions published since the program's inception in the early 1980s. However, R&D, and subsequently sales of the software, slumped when Multiactive bought the rights to the product in 1997 and renamed it Maximizer.

Multiactive's management team concentrated on the company's enterprise offering, Entice, and left it up to direct sales to push the Maximizer brand. A new-look management team for Multiactive in Australia tried to revive ailing sales of the product early last year but little eventuated.

Meanwhile, Melbourne-based Vital Software, under the stewardship of Tracker's founder, Paul Dodd, has spent the past two years developing a rival application based on the original.

"The original source code for Tracker, if Multiactive still has it, is seven years old. We thought it would be easier to start from scratch than have to re-engineer something that old," Dodd told [ARN.

"The new Contact Tracker features all of the current computer and telephony technologies, and we have still maintained some of the simple-to-use functionality that made the original Tracker so popular," Dodd said. "What will set Contact Tracker apart from its competitors is the broad range of communication options on offer."

The software features the ability to contact people by phone, e-mail, mail and fax, and now enables users to send bulk SMS (short message service) texts to customers or staff. The database engine has been migrated from Tracker's original proprietary database to a Microsoft SQL server database, making it easier to integrate with Windows platforms, according to company officials.

Since parting ways with Ingram in May, Bushell has had a long association with the Tracker product and its founder but has taken a back-seat approach, given his stints in distribution.

Vital Software has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Ingram Micro to take the new version to market.

The software retails for around $300 and is suitable for single-user or multiple-user networked environments. Bushell said the company hopes to leverage Ingram's mass merchant channel while also recruiting VARs to target the small-to-medium enterprise market with multi-user solutions.

Stock of the new version began hitting retailers' shelves this week and Bushell is confident it will start appearing in Harris Technology and Harvey Norman stores in the near future.

To support the product, Vital Software will operate a customer hotline between the hours of 9am and 6pm EST.

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