IBM launched an assault recently against rival Sun Microsystems, charging that Sun has engaged in a "desperate effort" to claim the lead in worldwide server sales. Big Blue shot back at Sun by citing new research figures, due this week from Dataquest, that put IBM at the top of the worldwide server market.
During a recent conference call with press and analysts, Sun relied on its market share mantra, saying it can keep pulling ahead of competitors even during tough economic times. Sun cut its earnings estimates for the third quarter around 50 per cent below analysts' previous expectations but asserted that it is poised for continued leadership.
"I have been consistent on market share for years," Ed Zander, president and chief operating officer at Sun, said during the conference call. "If you look at HP's market share numbers form last quarter and look at ours and IBM's, I think we are going to take globs and globs of market share. The fact again - passing IBM in revenue for all servers - is something we are pretty happy about. That is something we set out to do five years ago, and most people thought it was an insurmountable task - to be the number one server company on the planet - and to be there today is really a feat that we are going to maintain and grow."
Zander's words touched a nerve with IBM because Big Blue believes it maintains the number one position worldwide in total server sales based on Dataquest's new study on server shipments in 2000.
Dataquest's numbers show that IBM's worldwide server revenues totalled $US13.7 billion for the year compared with $9.7 billion for Sun, IBM said. IBM also highlighted its shipment figure of 656,457 servers versus 289,040 servers for Sun.
An IBM spokesman referred to Sun's claims as a "dark smokescreen" and said that IBM's rival would "say anything now".
Sun, however, chalked the IBM attack up to a mistake made by Zander and Scott McNealy, chairman and chief executive officer at Sun, during various public conversations recently.
"The boys might have been a bit overzealous. The worldwide data did not come out until [late last week]," said Sun spokeswoman Lisa Ganier.
Zander and McNealy were apparently loose with their words and meant to refer to a Dataquest study that went out last week, marking Sun as number one in total server sales in the US only, according to Ganier.
Sun maintains Zander and McNealy could not have meant exactly what they said because no one had seen the figures until after their statements.