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  • Microsoft Japan, Oracle Enjoy Oligopoly in NT RDB Market
  • December 21, 1998 (TOKYO) -- The market for relational databases (RDBs) for NT is dominated by two major vendors, Microsoft Co., Ltd. of Japan and Oracle Corp. Japan, which are racing to increase their shares of the oligopoly.
    According to a survey conducted by Nikkei Watcher on IT Business, the total number of products expected to be delivered by the two companies will increase to 90 percent of the market in fiscal 1998. The total had stood at 80 percent in fiscal 1997.

    Japan's market for relational databases for NT has been growing steadily. Products delivered by seven key vendors in fiscal 1998 will likely reach 117,600 units, which would represent an increase of 29 percent year-on-year, according to an estimate by Nikkei Watcher, and total sales are projected to reach 13.140 billion yen (US$113.4 million), which would be an increase of 32 percent on a year-on-year basis.

    The number of PC servers delivered, as platforms for RDB, should increase by almost 30 percent. This shows the strong expansion of business as a result of synergy effects of RDB and its platform.

    Microsoft Japan, in its fiscal 1998 period (through June 1999), is likely to ship 55,000 units of SQL Servers, which would be an increase of 25 percent from the previous fiscal period, on projected revenues of 5.2 billion yen (US$45 million), up 30 percent.

    Oracle Japan, in its fiscal 1998 period (through June 1999), expects to deliver 52,000 units, up 30 percent year-on-year. However, Oracle expects to generate revenues of 6.5 billion yen (US$56.1 million), up 30 percent year-on-year.

    Microsoft puts a priority on the increase in the number of delivered products, which drives its marketing effort to spread SQL Servers as an element of BackOffice and its Small Business Server (SBS) in the small and midsize business market.

    Nikkei Watcher estimates that the ratio of SQL Servers sold to such businesses in fiscal 1997 accounted for slightly less than 20 percent.

    In contrast, Oracle Japan arranged corporate alliances with enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors and other companies, penetrating the large corporate market.

    "More system integrators are purchasing products from designated vendors, and our products have been adopted in retail store systems used by Seven-Eleven Japan Co., Ltd. and Family Mart Co., Ltd.," said Kaoru Fijishiro, manager of the NT Solution Dept. of Oracle Japan's Product Sales Division.

    The two major suppliers tend to operate in different sectors. However, they are expected to compete directly from 1999 in the midsize and smaller business market. In early 1998, Oracle Japan started reinforcing development support for versions corresponding to Oracle, targeting business package vendors specializing in smaller and midsize business applications.

    Oracle's Fijishiro said: "We have established partnerships with Miroku Jyoho Service Co., Ltd., OBIC Business Consultant Co., Ltd. (OBC), P.C.A. Corp. and others. By mid-1999, we will sign up ten more partners in the Oracle camp, which means that we will have partnerships with a total of almost 20 from among the prominent independent service vendors (ISVs)."

    To counter Oracle's moves, Microsoft plans to issue the newest version of SQL Server 7.0 by March 1999.

    With the new release, Microsoft hopes to encourage about 20 business package ISVs using the current version 6.5 to upgrade their services to version 7.0.

    "Because it has been two and a half years since the release of version 6.5, there is no denying some weakening in the value of the SQL Server brand, while competitors have continued to offer upgrades. But, version 7.0, upon its release, will revive our leadership in the business," said Hiroyasu Kitagawa, SQL Server Product manager in Microsoft's Solution Technology Application Development Customer Unit.

    (Nikkei Watcher on IT Business)

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    Updated: Sun Dec 20 17:02:20 1998 PDT