Blurred focus causes Oracle to lose top spot

Oracle's focus on applications in the past year caused it to lose its lead in the global database market to IBM, according to Dataquest.

IBM moved into the top slot thanks to strong sales of its System 390 and AS/400 systems, as well as "dramatic growth" for DB2 on Unix and Windows NT platforms, according to Gartner Group's Dataquest.

In 1997 Oracle toppled Big Blue from the lead position in the database market. But in 1998 IBM's worldwide share of new licence revenues reached 32.3 per cent, up from 28.9 per cent in 1997. Over the same period, Oracle's share dropped from 29.4 per cent to 29.3 per cent, according to Dataquest.

Local figures won't be available until the year's end, however Dataquest Australia's principal analyst Rolf Jester said IBM's win came partly because of Oracle's focus on applications, which is particularly strong in the US.

"I couldn't verify whether that's the case in Australia," Jester said.

Australian user feedback on product use has been "overwhelming" in that Microsoft is "doing quite well" and has come very close to Oracle, Jester said.

"I don't think Oracle will take that lying down," he said. "They need to renew their focus on databases."

However, most local users intend to purchase an Oracle database, he said. "They've been telling us that very clearly for some time."

Jester wouldn't be drawn on how Microsoft and Oracle's upcoming releases (SQL Server 7 and Oracle 8i) would affect the local market. Both vendors have flagged the products as key to their database strategies.

While Oracle lost the top spot overall, it still leads the relational database management systems segment, as well as leading on the Unix and Windows NT platforms, according to Dataquest.

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