Stories that warrant watching: SPSS, HP, Acer, Google, SAP, Oracle, NetSuite

Wedding bells for a Chicago software firmLast week, IBM offered to pay $1.2 billion for SPSS, nee Statistical Package for the Social Sciences.

Wedding bells for a Chicago software firm

Last week, IBM offered to pay $1.2 billion for SPSS, nee Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. SPSS was one of those niche firms with a lot of brilliant folks on board. They possessed a number of slick apps that few knew of or understand but nonetheless made millions for their users.

If IBM’s smart about this deal, they’ll keep the talent and push this technology, the modeling and advanced analytics, etc. into every vertical they can. IBM should also push the envelope on their technology and make this stuff as technically relevant as possible. Click for more from The Standard on this.

Acer, HP, Google Android and Google Chrome

The Standard reported that Acer was dropping the development of an Atom based netbook running Google’s Android. Acer and HP may develop netbooks based on Google’s Chrome. Google could become a real nuisance to Microsoft if it fields a market relevant desktop OS. This is a story to watch especially if application developers can be recruited to code for this platform.

SAP & Oracle Earnings (& Pricing)

SAP earnings were announced this week. The company’s revenues could be better but the firm is apparently ably managed and its operating margins even went up. Comparisons to same quarter revenues last year may be a bit unfair as that was one heck of a quarter and the last quarter whose results weren’t totally clocked due to the recession.

Oracle a few weeks ago boasted record 41% operating margins. FierceCIO reported recent price hikes by Oracle even in the face of a recession. I enjoyed the first paragraph of their article:

These are tough times and managers are trying to keep expenses down, but apparently no one told that to Oracle.

Oracle took an amazingly risky step, by raising the cost of some of its management options for its flagship database by 40 percent, according to a pricing list available on July 1, InfoWorld reports.

Now let’s compare those financial results to a SaaS vendor…

NetSuite Earnings

I listened in to the NetSuite earnings call late last week. The story at this application software vendor was decidedly more upbeat overall and it was really better by new revenue standards as compared to traditional on-premise providers.

NetSuite is also generating free cash flow from operations now. The company also indicated that is working a big services customer deal in Europe which has the potential for a 9000 seat customer.

As one of the better known and larger SaaS (software as a service) vendors, NetSuite benefits by the continuing rising tide that SaaS brings. Having large systems integrators and outsourcers legitimizing SaaS also helps the space. CIOs are now more comfortable and more knowledgeable about SaaS and I’d expect more CIOs to ask vendors like NetSuite this question: “Can you deliver for me big company SaaS expertise and mature solutions while maintaining the SaaS cloud cost structure of someone like Amazon or Google?” Yes, I think smarter CIOs are going to demand that vendors provide not just a SaaS solution but an inexpensive one, too! Maybe I’ll get to ask that question at their next earnings call….