Do RIM's troubles act as a warning to Oracle?

Do RIM's troubles act as a warning to Oracle?

Summary: Do RIM's current woes portend the future for Oracle?


If we are to believe what we're seeing, RIM is in deep trouble. It's bad enough that the world and his dog seems to have abandoned its iconic brand for Apple and Android but when shareholders get angry then you know there is something up. At its AGM, the co-CEO's dodged a bullet when rumblings about a vote of confidence in their ability ebbed away. Make no mistake, RIM's future is on a clock that is ticking down rapidly. But what relevance to Oracle?

In an intriguing story about what it is like inside RIM, BGR says:

Publicly, the company is portraying a very defensive image — one that is very dismissive, as if RIM is profitable and class-leading, and the media is out of line to criticize its business, as are investors. Internally, however, there’s a different story to be told. It’s a story filled with attitude, cockiness, heated arguments among the executive team and Co-CEOs, and paranoia. We’ve spoken to multiple ex-RIM executives at length about their experiences with the company over the past few years. While most speak highly of RIM and their time in Waterloo, they also each left the company due mainly to RIM’s lack of vision and leadership.

Can the same be said of Oracle? Not entirely. But some of the warning signs are there and especially for its applications business.

In recent times I have come across a number of ex-applications business customers who tell much the same tale. Paraphrased it goes something like this: 'Oracle is no longer a partner but a vendor whose only intent is to extract as much money from us as possible.' That most often happens when a competitor tips up with a more attractive value proposition.

Customers naturally go back to Oracle and say they have been made a better offer and either want out of the deal or get a matching offer. That's all part of the negotiating game. Oracle replies that it is OK to walk but adds a rider. If customers want to stop using one or other application then Oracle wants to relicense the remainder at higher cost. Many slink away and continue to use Oracle. A brave few say enough is enough and walk away. In one case I heard about this week, the customer pleaded with the new vendor: 'Get me out of this mess.' It will be no surprise that the vendor was more than happy to oblige.

For RIM customers, the cost of add-ons is often way out of line with the benchmarks Apple and Android are setting.

You might argue that Oracle is quite within its rights to argue as it does and given the fact few customers truly undertake adequate legal due diligence on license terms then the old saw: caveat emptor takes on fresh meaning. But the fact that customers are walking away puts lie to the perceived truth that it is just too difficult to get away from a large incumbent provider. I expect to see that trend continue to grow over time.

If that wasn't enough then to hear that Kevin Turner, Microsoft's COO taking potshots at Oracle tells me that Oracle has real troubles ahead. Check this:

Taking aim at Oracle, Tuner rhetorically asked: "How many happy Oracle customers are you talking to?"

You can write Turner off as typical of the vendor bashing that seems to have become endemic in the public domain. In the speech he gave at the recent Microsoft partner bash (sic) Oracle was only one of a clutch of vendors Turner chose to ridicule. But Microsoft taking a crack in this way seems incongruous until you realise the importance of the question.

If you believe that Turner's words, however gutter worthy, are a reflection of a broader malaise then how long will it be before we hear customers on public platforms telling it as it is?

But there are other factors in play that mirror some of what we see at RIM. Doesn't matter which way you cut Oracle's application pie, its generally available products are old. In some cases very old. They are way out of tune with the direction the market is taking. Yet still the company wants to milk its customers at 22% for annual maintenance. Oracle will come back talking Fusion but until that solution is out in the market and has been battle tested at customer sites then none of the rhetoric matters. The same rings true for RIM.

As for BGRs accusation that RIM's story is one of 'attitude, cockiness...and paranoia' need we say more about Oracle?

Some will say that I am being wholly unfair in singling out Oracle and that the same can be said of SAP, IBM, Verizon and dare I say it - Apple itself in some measure. Not quite. But then I only have to read the comments to things I say about Oracle to know that disquiet is not an aberration but very real.

Topics: Oracle, Mobility, BlackBerry, Security

Dennis Howlett

About Dennis Howlett

Dennis Howlett is a 40 year veteran in enterprise IT, working with companies large and small across many industries. He endeavors to inform buyers in a no-nonsense manner and spares no vendor that comes under his microscope.

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  • RE: Do RIM's troubles act as a warning to Oracle?

    in order to improve customer satisfaction, Oracle needs to drop the android lawsuit and expand its FOSS efforts.
    Linux Geek
    • RE: Do RIM's troubles act as a warning to Oracle?

      @Linux Geek
      I'm not sure. I suspect that this lawsuit on Android means nothing. Most developers don't give such things the time of day. Oracle getting money from Google will most likely not have any material effect on developers. If you want to improve developer relations, improve java. If you want to improve customer satisfaction, start with lowering prices.
  • Database is not like your cell phone

    Anyone can make phone, but only Oracle & Microsoft are real enterprise database players.
    • RE: Do RIM's troubles act as a warning to Oracle?

      @FADS_z <br><br>Ever heard of a company called IBM? They've only been in existence for 100 years.
  • RE: Do RIM's troubles act as a warning to Oracle?

    I've been hearing this about Oracle for 25 years. Have things really changed?
  • Nobody likes larry

    SAP is largest reseller of oracle and IBM largest sys integrator. If customers are unhappy oracle is probably more standard based than SAP and migration is therefore less painful. There are enormous value in SAP and ORACLE. Anything that doesnt.add value will eventually fade away.
  • RE: Do RIM's troubles act as a warning to Oracle?

    Agreed that it has taken Oracle some time to integrate and come up with best in market fusion apps .. but in the mean time it has been constantly investing in newer versions of existing Apps Unlimited. Fusion Apps as we speak are already being implemented by some early adopters. Bottom Line - The vision of Oracle is to provide the best of breed solutions across all product lines. Look at the success Exadata has been seeing over the last year and Fusion Apps will follow suit.
    • RE: Do RIM's troubles act as a warning to Oracle?

      @haristar1@... - I hear this a lot but as I said - until I see it in the market AND battle tested then TO ME - it is all talk.
  • RE: Do RIM's troubles act as a warning to Oracle?

    Great Article. Oracle is missing Value and Accountability to the customer. The whole 'co-existence' strategy of old legacy suites and new Fusion modules doubles cost/complexity/pain and serves only Oracle. Matched with a 'only Red' attitude, Oracle is doing more than playing hardball with customers-it is asking them to shun the entire ecosystem and innovation and join the 'big EXASTACK' cult and come live on Larry Island. Every Oracle customer is being asked now (we are too!) to throw everything in one big 'private cloud' basket...there is a word for that-hostage.
    Dennis-we need you to be the deprogrammer-calling out the lunacy of leaving all other vendors in favor of drinking the 'red kool-aid'. A choice of one is not 'open standards'-its no choice at all.
    • RE: Do RIM's troubles act as a warning to Oracle?

      @aidensteel@... Bingo. I have been commenting on this blog for some time about exactly what you highlight. Oracle thinks that its customers should be happy to even have an opportunity using its products. They are forgetting that (a) customers are already choosing Itanium over Oracle (b) many customers are running clusters with Oracle standard edition and many database instances instead of dedicated servers and lastly (c) many customers are looking at Oracle offers for the price and asking if they need all of this or perhaps DB2 or SQL server will many cases the migration process away from Oracle starts right there....Ask yourself this next time you hear Oracle...have you ever met a customer of Oracle who had good things to day about Oracle company?
  • I suspect many customers are unhappy about Oracle Apps Retro Edition

    Or Fusion as it is sometimes called.

    Customers used to the flexibility and power of Forms and PL/SQL are unlikely to get excited about something as cumbersome and old-fashioned as J2EE.

    The whole point of RDBMS is that you can get at the data in a flexible way. The Fusion Middleware layer is the data equivalent of a communist era Bulgarian border control - with Java programmers as the bureaucratic, more than my job's worth border guards.
    • RE: Do RIM's troubles act as a warning to Oracle?

      @jorwell The truth is that Oracle apps were never that great to begin with. Some basics were only covered in 11i. if you were an IT guy supporting Oracle, you needed a PL/SQL editor, a Java development environment and then Toad. This is just to do your basic work. Oracle apps. have always felt like a do it yourself job and that is after spending millions on the software. HUGH?! Now we have the Exa-crap products that continue to go down the same thinking. Oracle has never learned that its customers are not in IT business for the most part, but in banking, retail, utility, media or some other business. The less costly the technology and the greater the benefits are, the more happy customer is. As I have state before, Oracle is a marginal player in enterprise computing. Oracle just does not know it yet.
  • Can Oracle adapt to changing times?

    Fair well RIM. Great company. Slow to adapt to changing times. Fair well.

    Now look at Oracle, an enterprise database player, living of income coming from yearly maintenance fees and contracts. Okay, in $billions.

    Times have changed, 10 years ago it would have been impossible to think of Oracle being relegated to "old school" status or losing market share to smaller more efficient, less expensive offerings. But indeed if Oracle does not change with the times that is exactly what will happen, what is happening.

    Instead of fighting legal battles with Google, perhaps Oracle can provide something Google needs.

    Um.....let's see.....what would that be......
    something Oracle can provide a large global enterprise trying to compete with Apple, IBM, Microsoft on every level of corporate business.

    Oh... I got it! ..... Respect in the Enterprise Applications and Database industry? Remember Google Apps competing Microsoft for contracts with the various government agencies? Perhaps Google no longer needs this.

    So RIM has failed to act quickly enough to adapt to changing times. Can Oracle adapt to changing times?