This was Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's response to a Gartner Dataquest study that claims Big Blue's database-management software has gained market share over Oracle's.
The reportthat Oracle had slipped to second place, with about a 32 percent share in the overall database market for 2001, versus IBM's 34.6 percent.
"There are 20 market share reports, of which 19 show Oracle was first, and only one shows IBM was first," Ellison told reporters this week during the OracleWorld conference here.
"Gartner wouldn't say how they got their numbers, while all the other surveys disclose how they got theirs," Ellison said. "Gartner will tell you it's a secret: secret arithmetic."
Gartner Dataquest could not be contacted at press time, but one IBM executive had plenty to say.
"For years, Gartner Dataquest has ranked Oracle No. 1, and there've been no complaints from Oracle on the methodology. But now that the findings show IBM has dethroned them, they cry foul," said Jim Koerner, IBM Asia-Pacific vice president for Data Management.
"We continue to see customers choosing our mainframe technology for their mission-critical applications. Clients such as the U.S. Federal Reserve and FedEx rely on our mainframe database technology," Koerner said.
"Comments like this show (that) Oracle is reacting to our momentum," Koerner said.
Citing a recent Goldman Sachs survey of 400 users, Oracle's Ellison said 60 percent of respondents plan to build new applications on Oracle, while only 3 percent chose IBM's DB2.
(However, according to Goldman Sachs, 13 percent of the respondents chose IBM, not 3 percent.)
"If IBM is eating (into our market share), then it's on a starvation diet," Ellison said. "IBM has to do the arithmetic to explain why 3 percent is bigger than 60 percent."
IBM did not comment on the Goldman Sachs study but said that in the most recent quarter, DB2 grew by 12 percent, marking a total of 20 consecutive quarters of growth.
"This is in sharp contrast to Oracle, which reported a 26 percent decline in its database business," IBM's Koerner said.
On the performance of DB2, Ellison said, "IBM chose Oracle database to demonstrate how fast their fastest computers are. If IBM picks Oracle over DB2, who will pick DB2? IBM hardware is good, but their software is not so good."
IBM claims industrywide benchmark results don't correspond with Ellison's remarks. Furthermore, Koerner said, 60 million users and some 450,000 companies worldwide rely on IBM data management solutions.
Koerner believes Oracle's "go it alone" approach has caused leading application developers such as SAP, Siebel Systems, PeopleSoft, Retek and Vignette to abandon Oracle and form strategic alliances with IBM.
"These companies, who were once responsible for Oracle's thriving database business, have replaced Oracle with IBM DB2 as their standard software development platform for both internal and external applications," Koerner added.
CNETAsia's Fran Foo reported from Singapore and Irene Tham contributed from Beijing.