Opinion

The Great Debate

Sun software is the tail wagging the dog

Eric Auchard– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own —

When Oracle agreed to buy Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion in April, the headlines made much of the software maker’s decision to enter the computer business 30 years late. At less than 10 per cent of sales, Sun’s software business seemed an afterthought.

But Sun’s software is now center stage after European competition regulators said on Thursday that they would withhold approval for the deal until they finish probing the impact of the Oracle-Sun merger on the database software market. The decision means the transaction faces at least a four-month delay, pushing it into early next year.

Any delay is costly for Oracle. Sun’s sales have plunged as key financial, government and communications customers have held back purchases of computers and storage until Oracle is able to clarify its long-run commitment to Sun hardware and software products.

The commission is debating whether, or under what conditions, to allow Oracle to acquire Sun’s MySQL database software. Given that the business brings in only $100 million in quarterly revenue, less than 1/25th of Sun sales, the easy way out would be for Oracle to jettison MySQL. However, that would be a mistake.

Can sleeping giant Skype reinvent itself?

eric_auchard_thumbnail2.jpg – Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Do once-hot Internet start-ups who miss a date with destiny ever truly get a second chance? History says no, even for once-great names like Netscape, AOL and MySpace.

Skype hopes to be the exception. On Tuesday, a group led by top Internet financiers in Silicon Valley and Europe agreed to pay eBay $1.9 billion in cash for a 65 percent stake in the one-time web calling sensation.

Forget Microsoft, Yahoo’s value is overseas

– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

eric_auchard_columnist_shot_2009_june_300_px2The fate of Yahoo Inc has become intertwined in the public’s imagination with the success or failure of its dealings with Microsoft Corp in recent years.

That’s despite the fact that as much as 70 percent of the value investors put on Yahoo’s depressed shares are tied up in its international assets or cash holdings — factors that have nothing to do with Microsoft.

HP has to look beyond cost cuts soon

EricAuchard.jpg– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own —

The stock price seems to be the only thing growing at Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest computer company. HP shares have risen 75 percent this year, despite few signs of a revival in technology spending.

The company, best known as a supplier of computer printers, has suffered a 19 percent drop in sales of hardware and ink supplies. In good times, this produced the bulk of HP’s profits, but it’s the financial engineering under Mark Hurd, the company’s chairman and chief executive, that seems to be the main driver now.

China’s Web filtering starts in the West

Eric Auchard– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

The Chinese government has backed away from mandating filtering software on all personal computers in China, in a move that averts a dangerous escalation in its censorship powers.

But however controversial and unworkable China’s plan to require Internet filters on PCs proved to be, Western firms have largely themselves to blame for creating and selling such filters in the first place.

BlackBerry’s biggest rival may be itself

Eric Auchard– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Research in Motion officials do their best not to laugh when asked if they fear the rise of a BlackBerry-killer, some theoretical device that does everything its coveted e-mail phone does, only better.

But BlackBerry’s biggest threat may come from itself. As the company’s latest quarterly results suggest, there is a gulf between its pricey corporate phones and price-sensitive consumer models that are cutting into margins.

Dell’s retail detour starts to look smart

Eric Auchard– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –
Dell Inc’s move into retail sales might seem poorly-timed, discretionary spending being what it is. In fact, the world’s No. 2 personal computer maker looks like it’s making the right choices that can get its long-struggling consumer business rolling again.

Dell is gearing up to feature several refreshed lines of consumer PCs in 30,000 stores around the globe. The company’s consumer retail chief Michael Tatelman has set aggressive growth targets for the business.

These targets come despite predictions by market research firm Gartner Inc that the PC industry this year will suffer a nearly 12 percent decline, its biggest-ever unit sales drop.

Bracing for black shoots in tech markets

Eric Auchard– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Pundits have been talking endlessly about the possible green shoots of recovery in the ravaged world economy.

But early shoots are not always green. They might want to consider the problem of black shoots. These false starts are familiar to lily growers, when a temporary rise in soil temperature occurs after a cold period.

How Apple can take bite of business market

Eric Auchard– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Apple Inc is taking steps to make its computers run on corporate networks, but these moves fall far short of ensuring Mac users win equal standing in business.

Full corporate access for Apple computers inside businesses remains years away. If and when it comes, acceptance is more than likely to be the result of broad trends reshaping the office computer market, rather than Apple’s own product genius.

Bing just shows Microsoft still needs Yahoo

ericauchard1– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Microsoft Corp’s new Web search service Bing is a far cry from the general-purpose tool the company must build or buy to compete effectively with rival Google Inc.

Microsoft would do far better helping users find the emails, documents and Web pages that users of Outlook, Office and Internet Explorer rely on every day.

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