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April 01, 2014

IBM Loses Ground to Oracle in Largest Software Vendor Stakes

The software vendor market is one of regular change and constant jockeying for position, and 2013 turned out to be no exception. At the top of the heap is Microsoft software, including a wide array of software options and name recognition status that gives it a lot of power in the market. But underneath Microsoft, in the number two slot, there's been a bit of a change. Now, the second-largest software vendor in the field is no longer IBM, but Oracle (News - Alert) instead, as the company moved into the number two slot in the newest report from Gartner.

The Gartner report offered a close look at the top 10 firms in the field, with Microsoft (News - Alert) holding its previously-attained position as number one, realizing fully $65.7 billion in software revenue. Meanwhile, IBM lost its second-place slot in a close match with Oracle, bringing in $29.1 billion to Oracle's $29.6 billion, meaning that the number two slot in the 2014 numbers could well see a switch back to IBM (News - Alert). Meanwhile, SAP kept its position in fourth place, bringing in $18.5 billion in overall revenue, and the remaining vendors in the top 10 listings featured a host of familiar names, including Symantec (News - Alert), EMC, Hewlett-Packard, VMWare, CA Technologies, and finally,

Perhaps the biggest news of the top 10 listing, however, was the overall size of the software market in general. The total revenue realized across the vendors in the field, according to the Gartner report, came in at fully $407.3 billion, up fully 4.8 percent from last year. In what may have been the oddest twist seen in some time, emerging market areas actually turned into a state of “relative sluggishness” according to the Gartner report, while developed countries actually brought in more software sales to help make up for the losses from emerging markets. It's been the other way around in several different markets recently, so seeing the terms reversed is a bit of a surprise.

As for the market components, it's much more straightforward, as explained by Chad Eschinger, Gartner research vice president. Big data and analytics tools were a major driver, and so too were cloud-based applications along with “business investment and database” that gave Oracle some significant growth in its own sales operations. Beyond that, however, there was also major growth in software-as-a-service (SaaS (News - Alert)) offerings as hit the top 10 for the first time with $3.8 billion in sales. Subscription pricing also gave customers new flexibility and drove plenty of interest.

It's really rather staggering to consider that the software market overall accounts for fully $407.3 billion. Any time a market can be seen that represents almost half a trillion dollars of total value, it's a pretty major market indeed. But then, by like token, this should be expected. After all, most of our devices to one degree or another run on software, so the growth of the various device markets—particularly mobile devices—should be accompanied by a big gain in terms of the software that powers said devices.

Still, all those numbers serve as really just a prelude to this year, which is already a quarter in. Will any of these competitors hold a current slot by the end of this year? Will IBM regain its former second place rank? Will Oracle hold on? There are a lot of questions left to answer, and with the software market constantly in flux, only time will answer any of these truly.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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