Row over rankings

Two leading accountancy software vendors this week attacked the research of a leading industry consultant following the launch of a report on the booming business applications market.

In an extensive study of the big five players in the business applications market, Dennis Keeling, an Ovum consultant and head of the trade association Business and Accounting Software Developers’ Association, derided US-based PeopleSoft’s European sales.

‘Its international sales outside the US are minuscule compared with its overall revenue,’ he said. ‘It’s going to have a hard time selling software in Europe against more established companies like SAP and Baan.’

Keeling said German giant SAP remained ‘king of the hill’ in its share of the business applications market and product scope. Its 1997 turnover of $3.5bn (#2.2bn) dwarfed Oracle’s $1.2bn. Oracle also came under fire for spurning the Microsoft NT client/server orthodoxy in favour of Java and network computing.

‘I can’t believe what it’s doing. With year 2000 and euro conversion problems coming up, is it really the right time to launch a major alternative to Microsoft?’ added Keeling.

Dave Anderson, Oracle’s director of applications for the UK and Ireland, hit back. ‘Keeling is mispositioning Oracle. We’re not going to war with Microsoft. Our three-tier architecture is all about lowering the cost of applications,’ he said.

Mark Lane, European marketing director for PeopleSoft, also challenged Ovum’s findings: ‘I take issue with Keeling’s description of our European sales as minuscule. They’re $81m (#50m) and most of our sales are to multinationals so they won’t be classed as European deals.’ He said it was misleading to dub SAP ‘king of the hill’, as it does not lead every market sector.

Earlier this month, an IDC report showed that PeopleSoft achieved 72% growth in 1997, which catapulted it ahead of Oracle to second place in the corporate applications market, behind SAP. After its recent acquisition of Intrepid, which produces software for retail systems, PeopleSoft is keen to break into the retail sector.

‘The retail market is important for us because no one vendor is dominant,’ Lane said.

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