Dell and Sun have been duking it out for the top spot for more than a year in the quarterly rankings by Technology Business Research. Dell first ascended to the top spot a year ago, but Sun regained it in the last quarter's study.
Rather than analyzing just one aspect of computing--such as servers or desktops or workstations--TBR compares computer companies on factors such as revenue, product strategies, marketing strategies, manufacturing strategies, and business model.
Dell leads the PC industry in growth and profitability, according to TBR. And while TBR doesn't expect the Round Rock, Texas, company's growth to continue at the present astounding rate, Dell is "pursuing new markets and geographies to help maintain this growth for as long as it can," TBR said.
Sun's drop to second place was partly because of a seasonal dip in business and partly because of a less-than-stellar score in the price/performance factor, said Lindy Lesperance, an analyst at TBR. "Sun is having a difficult time competing with their low-end workstations, competing against NT workstations," she said.
TBR praised Sun's constant planning for the future, its efforts to better integrate with the Microsoft Windows NT realm, and tightly managed finances. "By providing NT interoperability, Sun has come to terms with the reality that NT is pervasive on the desktop and in Sun's accounts, and [finally] created a solution that is positive for Sun's customers," TBR said.
Compaq jumped up from sixth place to third place. "Last quarter, the acquisition of Digital hurt their score," she said. Although Compaq continues to have strong PC sales, the average selling price has dropped, TBR said, leading to decreasing profitability.