IBM's Revenge on Sun and Microsoft's Brush with Reality: Page 2

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Why IBM?

For many of these accounts, even though Sun came in, IBM remained and consistently supported the aging IBM hardware.

This consistency in the face of what is clearly a big surprise, coupled with an already existing and stable relationship, seems to be resulting in IBM being favored in the majority of competitive migrations. Those old mainframes and AS400 mid-range computers are paying a surprising late dividend in bringing customers back to the IBM fold.

Certainly IBM's laser-like focus on the segment is helping it, and IBM has been executing very well of late in a number of notable areas.

For instance, they are also more focused than any vendor I cover on the Stimulus Package funding in the US. The company has set up facilities and efforts specifically targeted that funding source more aggressively than any other competitor.

As a result they are likely to achieve the greatest benefit from this as well. Their company valuation is projected by some to rise sharply as a result, suggesting that even the very conservative financial analysts are becoming excited about IBM's efforts.

This will be a great case study for someone both in terms of the merger and in terms of the IBM response. Something that, say, Jack Welch, the legendary head of GE might find interesting.

Too Much Reality for Microsoft

Microsoft is doing a reality TV program that is interesting both for what it does well and what it does poorly.

The page layout, somewhat subtle roll of Microsoft messages, and idea are actually kind of interesting. I think they are on to something here, but what doesn't work is the programming content, which isn't really very interesting despite some very good cutting of the material.

In the end a program has to live or die on the content and the content in this first effort isn't exciting, funny, or compelling enough to hold an audience.

The Web-based program is called Everybody's Business and Jack Welch is the star much like Donald Trump is the star of the Apprentice. Unlike Apprentice the show uses a real case, in this instance Hertz, and that goes to the core of what I think the problem is.

There is too much reality. Typical meetings are rarely like they are in the Apprentice and folks who have to sit through real meetings don't really like to watch similar events on TV (most of us would like to avoid the ones we do have to attend).

There can be heated exchanges but if you only focus on those you lose the context of everything else. And instead of becoming more interesting it simply becomes louder.

So, while I think this initial effort was a failure, I do think they have the beginnings of an interesting idea here. Properly fleshed out this could become an Internet property like "The Office" or "The Apprentice" which is both entertaining and can be used as a marketing vehicle.

Although I pondered both the Sun acquisition and this program together, I did kind of wonder how Jack Welch would have advised Oracle on how to do the Sun acquisition or whether he would have recommended Oracle do it in the first place.

In watching him on the program, I'm thinking he would have suggested Oracle spend its money on something else. This suggests a different kind of program, something more along the lines of a game show titled "What Would Jack Welch Do?" I might watch that one.

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Tags: Linux, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, mergers

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