Cosmo helps SGI focus on desktop

When Silicon Graphics Inc. bought Paragraph International Inc.
Written by Margaret Kane, Contributor

When Silicon Graphics Inc. bought Paragraph International Inc. in September, the plan was that the three-dimensional software company would help move SGI into the world of the desktop -- offering 3-D and Virtual Reality tools for consumers and programmers on Windows-based platforms.

The SGI company formed out of that acquisition, Cosmo Software, has now released Windows 95 and Windows NT versions of its Java development environment, Cosmo Code, which was previously available only for SGI's IRIX environment.

The company is targeting the Java tool suite, available in January for $329, specifically at developers who are working in 3-D -- people who are not "writing Web pages, but developing them," said Aub Harden, product manager for the company.

Other classes, including database, user interface and data structure classes, will be bundled with the product through a partnership with Rouge Wave Software.

Cosmo choose to partner for the non 3-D offerings because the company wants to focus all of its energies on 3-D, Harden said. According to Cosmo's market research, 68 percent of Internet Web sites are using Java, and 15 percent are doing something with VRML.

"Right now everyone does a little bit of everything. But we expect that as the market matures you'll see more specialization in developers," he said.

More developments in Windows 95 and NT are on the way. The company will release its Cosmo Worlds VRML Authoring product for those platforms in the first quarter of next year, and plans to tightly integrate the two products down the road.

But while Cosmo's software is impressive, the company's specialization could backfire on them, said Mark Hardie, senior analyst at Forrester Research. So far, he said, the Internet world has not taken to 3-D or VRML.

"I just don't agree that we're going to go to a 3-D Web -- we're sooner going to go to a TV environment," he said. "It's not that you can do this, it's who's going to do it and at what volumes?"

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