When you've been creating and selling the same application for 20 years -- the most successful database on the Mac platform, and a contender on Windows -- and you're a wholly owned subsidiary of Apple, Inc. with plenty of customers in business, education and SOHO markets... well, what do you do for an encore?
FileMaker Inc. has a pretty good market with the namesake app, but as the Mac universe grows to include more families, independent professionals and first-time switchers, the full power and cost of a relational database may be more than these new Mac users need (and might actually be more scary than appealing, despite FM's legendary ease of use). Time for a light, personal-organizer version of that FileMaker power -- an iData, if you will. It's coming in January, for Leopard users only, and it's called Bento. (That's Backup.app on the left and Butler on the right. Hi, I'm Mike, and I'm a Cover Flowaholic.) Bento will cost $49 for a single-user license, with a $99 family 5-pack option.
The idea of the bento box -- one-stop lunching, with compartments for the individual bits of yummy -- gives you a basic sense of the product. With contact, calendar, tabular/relational data and media file embedding, Bento can serve as a basic organizer or a reasonably savvy database, with a lot of room in the middle. For those with long memories who are saying "Hey, wasn't there already some Mac databasey-thing called Bento?" -- yep, that was the name of OpenDoc's native file format (thanks Christina for the tip).
Bento's time-limited preview version is available now for download; it expires in February after the on-sale date. We got a brief advance look (more details below) and there's a screenshot gallery for you to enjoy, but you'll best grok Bento by getting a copy and playing with it.