Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Oracle Beats IBM to Become No. 2 Software Company by Revenue

Here’s another interesting change coming in the wake of IBM’s disappointing earnings report on Wednesday: The size of its software business has slipped enough that it has ceased to be the second-largest software company in the world by revenue. That honor now apparently goes to software giant Oracle.

Who says so? Oracle, naturally. It issued a press release Thursday night, claiming the second-place spot for itself.

Given IBM’s recently announced quarterly results, we would like to take this opportunity to point out that Oracle’s software business has been growing faster than IBM’s software business and now Oracle has moved up to become the number two software company in the world while IBM has slipped to number three. Over IBM’s last four quarters, they reported software revenue totaling $25.7 Billion, while during Oracle’s last 4 quarters, we reported software revenue totaling $27.8 Billion.

Okay, then! For the record — and in case you forgot — Microsoft is the No. 1 software company in the world by revenue, with nearly $78 billion in sales as of the end of its most recent fiscal year. Oracle sales would have to triple in order to overtake that.

On Wednesday, IBM said that its software business grew by about two percent on a constant currency basis. Most of its software products, like WebSphere, were slightly up in the quarter. On a conference call, CFO Mark Loughridge promised a “strong pipeline in software” and “double-digit” growth in profit.

Compare that with Oracle’s most recent quarter when it reported software subscriptions and new licenses up four percent on a non-GAAP basis and license updates and support revenue up seven percent.

Even so, software is supposedly a longer-term bright spot at Big Blue. In a note to clients Thursday, Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst with Sanford Bernstein & Co., argued that as IBM’s hardware business declines — Unix servers sales fell 18 percent and storage gear sales fell 11 percent in its most recent quarter — he expects software to start adding more to IBM’s profitability mix.

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