Call it the clash of the titans. Oracle is doing some boasting this week at IBM's expense. The company claims it is now officially the second largest software company in the world -- and that IBM has fallen to third place at its hand.
However, this is not an official sanction by an industry body. Oracle’s claim is based on its own comparison between IBM’s investor relations Web page and Oracle’s investor relations Web page. IBM could not immediately be reached for comment on the claim.
"We will continue to develop innovative software products and related cloud services in pursuit of becoming number one," said Oracle President and CFO Safra Catz. But is Oracle really number two?
How Oracle Stacked the Numbers
Oracle points to IBM's recently announced quarterly results and said, “We would like to take this opportunity to point out that Oracle's software business has been growing faster than IBM's software business and now Oracle has moved up to become the number two software company in the world while IBM has slipped to number three.”
As proof, Oracle noted that Big Blue reported software revenue totaling $25.7 billion over the last four quarters. By contrast, the firm said, Oracle reported software revenue totaling $ 27.8 billion over the last four quarters.
One key note is how Oracle stacked the numbers. Oracle counted its four quarters starting from the second quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014 and counted IBM’s period from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the third quarter of 2013.
Ellison’s Bragging Rights
We caught up with Zeus Kerravala, a principal analyst at ZK Research, to get his take on Oracle’s big revelation. He told us Oracle and IBM are neck and neck on the software side.
“When you look at how close Oracle and IBM are now, you could argue that both companies are number two,” he said. “The big thing is both companies are still number two to Microsoft .”
Kerravala and others are watching to see how sustainable Oracle’s software success is. As he sees it, the era of cloud and mobile will factor in to which company lands solidly in the number two position.
“Right now, it’s hard to say that either company is bigger than the other,” Kerravala said. “Customers aren’t making decisions based on this announcement, but [Oracle CEO] Larry Ellison likes bragging rights. That’s why he bought a Hawaiian island and why he sponsored the America’s Cup and does many other things he does.”