In an analysis in The Register, Philip Howard of Bloor Research discusses the database market and how vendors like IBM, Computer Associates and Microsoft are targeting Oracle and seeing weaknesses in the latter’s marketing (among other things).
[…] Is it because [competitors] (and others) see weaknesses in Oracle? I don’t see how Oracle can have it any other way. Lots of rivals are specifically targeting them. Is this simply motivated by hatred or even dislike? It seems unlikely that major organisations would act on this sort of basis. This means that they think Oracle is vulnerable. Now, they could be wrong but with lots of vendors targeting Oracle that seems improbable.
[…] In fact, IBM is specifically targeting Oracle in terms of security and lock-in (it is giving away "Oracle handcuffs"), while Microsoft and CA are both talking about cost of ownership. These companies probably also think that Oracle may take its eye off the ball thanks to its acquisition of PeopleSoft and others.
While Howard writes that there’s more to it than just that, he does admit that he may be wrong with his impressions. He concludes:
[…] Nevertheless, if these impressions are valid and if they affect the marketplace then Oracle’s marketing machine is misfiring. Certainly its competitors seem to think so.
Howard’s perception of people’s dislike may be close to reality, though, if this situation is still true for Oracle:
"In 2Q04, opinion of Oracle by US IT professionals reached the lowest level in twelve years. This declining opinion, even against a background of declining opinion of software companies in general, is undermining demand strength for Oracle against IBM, Microsoft and SAP and poses a severe challenge to the continued success of Oracle in the near future. […] Positive opinion of Oracle continues to decline significantly, as does trust in Oracle; Oracle’s corporate brand image is reducing the demand situation for individual Oracle products."
That’s from a report published last September by market research firm Techtel, which I commented on at that time. It reports on research carried out nearly a year ago now and there’s nothing on Techtel’s website to indicate any recent such research.
A lot has happened to Oracle in that time, notably some high-profile shareholder lawsuits and the acquisition and ongoing digestion of PeopleSoft, any or all of which undoubtedly influence perceptions in one way or another.
Still, it’s all an interesting portrayal of a market play where one of the protagonists seems to be roundly disliked by everyone.