Newly-released worldwide database market share figures offer differing views on who is No. 1.
IDC has reported that the market for relational and object-relational databases was $US13.6 billion in 2003. Coming in first was Oracle, which had 39.8 per cent market share ($US5.4 billion), followed by IBM with 31.3 per cent share ($US4.25bn). Microsoft followed with 12.1 per cent (US$1.65bn).
Gartner, however, said database license revenues for 2003 were $7.1 billion. In Gartner's assessment, IBM came out on top with 35.7 per cent of the market ($US2.5 billion), followed by Oracle with 32.6 per cent ($US2.3 billion).
But IDC's numbers factor in both license and maintenance revenues, according to IDC analyst, Carl Olofson.
Oracle's revenues grew by 8.6 per cent last year while IBM's grew 5.5 per cent.
Microsoft, with $1.65 billion, grew its revenues 14.7 per cent, according to IDC.
IBM's growth comes mainly from customers' recommitment to the mainframe version of DB2 and continued strong growth of mainframe DB2 tools, IDC said.
Gartner reported about $US1.5 billion in sales for IBM on its mainframe and minicomputer systems and about $US1 billion on other systems.
"I look at the entire database market and I'm not going to ignore a $US1.5 billion portion of it just because it's on the mainframe and the AS/400," principal analyst at Gartner, Colleen Graham, said.
Despite the disparity among the different research firms, an Oracle official claimed the top spot.
"If you talk to customers, Oracle remains the No. 1 provider for database software," vice-president of technology marketing at Oracle, Bob Shimp, said. "IBM grew the slowest of all the top three vendors."
IBM said it was satisfied with its position.
"IBM is pleased with its momentum in the marketplace, delivering to customers the broadest platform support in the industry," the company said.
"For the third year in a row, Gartner named IBM the overall market share leader based on new license revenue."
Platform-wise, Linux growth is up, Olofson said.
"What we've found consistently across the vendors we talked to, with the exception of Microsoft, which doesn't sell Linux, of course, [is] they've reported that their Unix numbers are down and their Linux numbers are up," he said.