Sun Microsystems has announced a deal with a division of Sony to pre-install its StarOffice 6.0 productivity software on some Sony PCs sold in Europe.
As part of the deal, StarOffice 6.0 will be available on select Sony Vaio desktops sold in Europe by the end of the year.
“We expect that our relationship with Sony is going to expand to other countries and markets,” said Nancy Lee, group product marketing manager with Sun’s StarOffice division.
Sun has also been expanding its other partnerships. Hyundai MultiCAV Europe, a division of the South Korean conglomerate Hyundai Group, sells consumer PCs running StarOffice in New Zealand and Australia, according to Lee.
In the US, Sony has already struck a deal with Corel to ship the WordPerfect productivity suite on some Vaio desktop and notebook PCs.
Sun and Corel share the tiny slice of the desktop software pie not controlled by Microsoft. They say lower prices and increased compatibility with Office are making their products attractive alternatives as they look to steal business from the software giant. The Office suite, and a stripped-down version of the software called Microsoft Works, is installed on an estimated 95 per cent of PCs sold around the world, according to market research conducted by Corel and Sun.
Sun and Corel both concede that they are forced to share a small chunk of the consumer market and even less of the corporate market. However, a weakening PC market is allowing the companies to appeal to hardware makers where it counts — on price. “What we’re hearing a lot from OEMs is that they’re now able to provide more value with their desktop machines,” said Lee.
US-based research company Illuminata made note of the OEM trend in August, when Corel won two deals to ship its software with PCs from Hewlett-Packard and Dell. In a research note Illuminata predicted that the new options would be appealing because they give computer makers room to cut costs.
“At a time when margins for computer systems are tight enough to strangle most vendors, they can’t afford to give an extra penny away to Microsoft,” wrote Illuminata analysts Kevin Fogarty and James Governor.