General Magic Company Profile
Mission: Engaging, Active Internet Software
General Magic is in the business of making networks more powerful and easier to use so that people can be more productive. The company's core technologies, Magic Cap communication software and Tabriz AgentWare solutions, unleash the full power of today's networks--the Internet, the World Wide Web, and corporate intranets--enabling individuals and businesses to communicate and work more efficiently.
Business professionals, developers, device manufacturers, service providers, and corporate enterprises all represent target markets for General Magic products and services. No other company delivers the combination of high-powered technology, ease-of-use, versatility, and strategic advantage that General Magic products offer. With a talented engineering team, strong third-party alliances, and a track record of innovation, the company is well positioned to lead a new generation of engaging, active Internet communication solutions.
Background: Expanding the Reach of Evolving Technologies
Since its inception in May 1990, General Magic has been focused on transforming emerging network communication technologies into practical, real-world solutions.
Originally, the company was launched by Apple Computer as an independent corporation dedicated to developing business opportunities beyond traditional personal computing. The founders, Marc Porat, Andy Hertzfeld, and Bill Atkinson, quickly attracted a diverse team of people with extensive experience in the software and communication industries.
Today, General Magic is a completely independent, tightly focused operating company that has already delivered two major advances in technology: Magic Cap, a complete, easy-to-use communication software platform; and Telescript, a breakthrough object-oriented programming language that enables businesses to create active, agent-based applications.
The company licenses these open technologies to strategic business partners, who in turn create products that implement the technology. Sony, Motorola, AT&T, NTT FAN and Fujitsu are just a few of the companies that have transformed General Magic technology into hardware products and customer services.
Focused on the Internet, Open to Innovation
Today, the key area of opportunity for the company's core technology is the Internet, which has emerged as the medium of choice for automated communication among individuals and businesses.
The Internet can accommodate communication among a vast array of devices--from traditional telephones and personal computers to personal Internet communicators (PICs) and set-top devices. It links users to resources on enterprise networks, content providers, and independent service providers. Moreover, it is fast becoming ubiquituous, with more than 30 million users worldwide, according to analysts.
General Magic is the only company whose core software technologies activate the full power of the Internet, which includes both the World Wide Web and corporate intranets. The company's products create a new paradigm for Internet communication because:
- They are open and standards-based, allowing for integration and interoperability with products from third-party vendors, and enabling third-party vendors to add value to the technology through innovation
- They are scalable, enabling the technologies themselves to grow with the requirements of individuals and corporations, and enabling the capabilities of the Internet to scale to their full potential
- They are easy for people to use, encouraging rapid acceptance by application developers and fast assimilation by end users
To fully address the needs of its target customers, General Magic has created two separate divisions, each with its own charter, product lines, and business partners: the Communication Products Division, and the Active Internet Products Division.
Communication Products Division
The Communication Products Division licenses Magic Cap communication software, applications and derivative technologies, including Magic Cap for Windows, Presto!Links and Presto!Mail for Magic Cap communicators, and Softmodem fax software. Target markets include intranet businesses that require low-cost, easy-to-use, integrated mobile solutions, heavy Internet users, business and mobile professionals in a variety of vertical markets--from real estate and health care to travel and entertainment.
Internet Services Made Easy and Engaging...Anywhere
Technology is supposed to make communication easier. But the record shows that all too often, it merely complicates communication.
Today, mobile professionals want Web access, connectivity to their office email system, the ability to send and receive faxes, and synchronicity with their office desktop computers--all from a lightweight, easy-to-use, low-cost device. Yet early attempts to serve this demand have fallen short of expectations. PDAs, for example, are generally difficult to use, not well integrated with the Internet, and expensive. Pagers and cell phones offer only limited functionality. Laptop computers are still too cumbersome and often require the user to go through elaborate machinations simply to send faxes or receive email from the road.
Magic Cap communication software connects busy professionals to the information and services of the Internet in an engaging way--anywhere, any time, quickly and easily. For example, a personal Internet communicator running Magic Cap software allows users to:
- Exchange email that includes graphics, multiple typefaces and styles, sound effects, animation, and music
- Send a file or a message to multiple addresses simultaneously--via fax or pager as well as via email
- Keep contact lists up to date with minimal effort through automatic updates.
Currently, Magic Cap software has been licensed to dozens of corporations, who are using the technology to create hardware products such as personal Internet communicators. Sony's MagicLink PIC-2000, Motorola's Envoy 150, and Intuit's Pocket Quicken Connect are examples of the products that have been developed.
The First Mobile Internet Platform
The Communication Products Division recently introduced the first mobile Internet platform with graphics support, Presto!Links and Presto!Mail for Magic Cap communicators. The software is easy to install and use, and provides full graphics, text, and tables through wireline or wireless access. It makes it easy for users to integrate their calendars, namecards, and email, creating a complete, low-cost Internet access solution for on-the-go professionals.
Open Modem Technology
In addition, the Communication Products Division has launched Softmodem, which provides data and fax modem functionality on general-purpose microprocessors. Because it is operating system independent and portable to virtually any processor, Softmodem is well suited for implementation on all types of hardware devices.
Active Internet Products Division
The Active Internet Products Division licenses Tabriz agent products, including Tabriz AgentWare and Tabriz Agent Tools, which are powered by the company's innovative Telescript programming language. Tabriz AgentWare is Web software for executing and managing agent-based applications, and Tabriz Agent Tools are developer tools for creating agent-based applications that are deployed at Tabriz Web sites. Target markets include all companies that use the Internet to deliver information, products, and services--internally or externally.
Transforming Passive Networks Into Active Business Resources
The Internet has enjoyed phenomenal growth over the past 24 months. Yet today's Internet--which includes the World Wide Web and corporate intranets--is still a passive network. It requires users to browse manually through mountains of information in search of the content they're interested in, or make repeated efforts to access a server that's frequently busy, or log on to a site daily to get updated information.
General Magic's Tabriz products transform the Internet from a passive network into an active business resource where users can delegate tasks to agents. These agents can mine the Internet for information on a user's behalf, locating information, monitoring updates to information, and orchestrating information retrieval. They can search on virtually any Internet site, even while the user is off-line. Once the agents locate the desired information, the user receives notification via email or even a pager. The user simply logs onto the Web site, goes to his or her personalized page, and views the requested information.
The following examples illustrate the types of active, agent-based applications that can be created with Tabriz AgentWare products:
- A user's agents can access the user's bank Web site to continuously monitor the user's account balance. The user is notified if his account drops below a certain pre-specified minimum balance via email, pager, or fax.
- Agents can be a "connection fiber" within the supply chain on the corporate intranet. The order entry system, for example, can automatically interact with inventory and shipping to streamline the entire customer transaction.
- Consumers can shop for the best airfare automatically by simply deploying an agent. The agent travels between the Web sites of individual airlines to find the best airfare to a specified place at a given time.
Competitive Advantage: Active, Persistent, Secure Agents
General Magic's Tabriz AgentWare products facilitate the development and deployment of active, persistent and secure network services. They deliver a combination of features and functionality that is absolutely unique in the industry. Three key attributes in particular, set Telescript agents apart: they are persistent, they are active, and they are secure.
Active: Tabriz agents can travel anywhere on any type of network--interacting with other agents, gathering information, monitoring changes to that information, even automating transactions. Because Telescript is an object-oriented language, developers don't have to write low-level code to enable this unlimited mobility.
Persistent: With Tabriz AgentWare applications, networks can offer services continuously. Users can send a command and go do something else--fire and forget--because the user interaction is decoupled from the task. If the network goes down, agents retain their instructions and the information they've located for the user--so when the network comes back up, they're right back on the job. Commerce continues, the search for information goes on.
Secure: Equally important, Tabriz AgentWare is inherently designed for security. Authentication, access control, privacy, and resource allocation features are built in, ensuring that each agent goes only where it is supposed to go and does only what it is supposed to do. Agents act only on the user's authority, and cannot be forged. At the same time, Tabriz enables users to quickly and easily specify permissions with fine granularity. For example, each employee's agents could be allowed access to his or her own file at human resources, while specified HR employees could be given access to multiple files, while agents from outside the company could be denied access completely.
Tabriz Complements the Capabilities of Java
Tabriz and Java are complementary. Tabriz agents can set parameters for Java applets and Java applets can call Tabriz operations on the server. This interoperability allows developers to create solutions that leverage the power of the two languages: Java can be used to manage the user experience, while Tabriz AgentWare can manage transactions, instructions, events, and processes on the Web.
Tabriz Agent Tools
General Magic has made it easy for developers to create next-generation active applications quickly and efficiently. The Tabriz Agent Tools development environment, which is included with Tabriz AgentWare 1.0, contains everything developers need to generate powerful interactive services. Developers who write in C++ will be prepared to start developing active applications with Tabriz Agent Tools quickly. Once they're familiar with the Telescript language, they'll spend significantly less time creating Tabriz AgentWare applications than they would developing similar applications with other languages.
Each of General Magic's core technologies is an open platform, which means that it can be integrated into or interoperate with technology from other vendors. By licensing its Magic Cap and Tabriz AgentWare technologies to strategic third-party business partners, the company has enabled other organizations to adopt and add value to the foundation technology and facilitated the development of a wide range of products that are on the market today.
Specifically, General Magic is working closely with three categories of business partners: hardware manufacturers, public telecommunications operators (PTOs), and developers.
Hardware manufacturers create products that incorporate General Magic technologies. By contracting with device manufacturers in a variety of markets, the company gains exposure to a wide range of customer groups and market segments. Similarly, by establishing alliances with PTOs, the company maximizes the potential reach of its technology among Internet users, because PTOs are tremendous aggregators of content. In addition, a complete list of the company's hardware manufacturing and PTO business partners is available on the General Magic Web site: http://www.genmagic.com.
With a focused strategy, industry-leading products and technologies, strong ties with forward-looking corporations, and fast-growing markets, General Magic is well positioned for growth and leadership in each of its target segments.
The company will continue to actively pursue partnership opportunities--with developers as well as corporations--that result in its core technologies being transformed into solutions that benefit businesses and end users. For example, to foster accelerating interest in its Tabriz product line, the company has developed several innovative programs that facilitate development and deployment of Tabriz AgentWare applications--the Greenhouse program, which provides developers with marketing assistance and specialized technical support services; and advanced engineering programs, which offer prototyping and development services.
In addition, the company has begun developing new channels in addition to its existing partnerships. New OEMs, VARs, systems integrators, and independent software vendors (ISVs) will begin marketing General Magic products and technologies directly. General Magic will also sell directly to corporate IS, Web operators, and service providers.
General Magic also intends to leverage its technologies into open Internet standards by embracing standards such as HTML, HTTP, POP3, Java, and MIME, while at the same time delivering expanded application functionality.
And to ensure that its products maintain their technological superiority without sacrificing time-to-market, the company will continue to invest heavily in both research and development and recruiting the industry's most talented personnel.