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Readers cheer on Ellison

Asked whether Oracle's Larry Ellison should follow through with his plan to buy Apple, NEWS.COM readers say: Go for it.

Go for it, Larry.

That's the message NEWS.COM readers sent this week when asked whether Oracle's Larry Ellison should buy Apple Computer.

Ellison last week floated a "trial balloon" in the press suggesting that he would gather a group of private investors, pool their money, and make a takeover bid for Apple. Ellison has said many times that Apple would be better off if he and his friend Steve Jobs booted out current management and took over themselves. Last week's report was only the latest iteration of that plan.

But this time even Jobs characterized Ellison's plan as "bizarre," according to the original report in the San Jose Mercury News.

NEWS.COM readers disagree, according to the results of our unscientific poll. In fact, 56 percent of the 625 readers who responded think Ellison should follow through with his plan to buy Apple.

The logic for many readers seems to be that Apple needs something or somebody, and Ellison would make as good a white knight as anyone else.

A good portion of the other 44 percent, however, think Ellison's proposal is misguided because it comes too late, because they believe in CEO Gil Amelio's turnaround plan, or because they think Ellison is an egomaniac whose prime motivation is getting more publicity for himself and not concern for Apple's future.

See the following pages for readers' explanations of their votes.

Go for it, Ellison
I read your interview with Amelio. He doesn't sound like a very good visionary to lead Apple against the likes of Microsoft, and/or Intel. They need a guy with a vision for the future of technology.

Sounds like Ellison agrees with me and wants a guy in there who can do it. The whole industry needs a strong competitor against Microsoft, and Ellison doesn't want to see a good potential adversary be buried by lackluster leadership. Ellison sounds like a sharp, aggressive guy who does have that vision, or at least knows someone who does (Jobs?).
  --David J. Smith

Can you say "SnApple"?
Simply put, Oracle buying Apple would be disasterous. After all, who knows the name accept for database geeks? Apple would suffer a fate worse than bankruptcy: consignment to the dustbin of "Oracle Who?"

On the other hand, if Sun were to buy Apple (in a hostile takeover, of course--have to maximize those profits), that would put a definite positive spin on news stories surrounding Apple and give Sun something to compete with NT workstations.

Ellison deserves Apple
Should he "try"? Sure! Anyone who has any business ability and the wherewithal to back his convictions ought to try to do what he thinks he has the ability to do.

Does this mean he should buy? Only if others have less ability or less certainty in their greater abilities.

In short, if he can get it, he may deserve it. As a longtime Apple user and stockholder, I am not at all sure he would be likely to do less good than any who has tried so far.
  --Hugh Nazor

Give Amelio a chance
Ellison has given no visionary reason behind trying to buy Apple. I think Apple has made some signficant decisions recently and it is important to first find out if they will or will not work before trying to change those decisions once again.

While Amelio could use some tutoring on talking to press and analysts, I don't think it's time to give up on him. Hopefully Amelio will be able to tell the world (and Wall Street) of the new vision Apple has planned. But you can't have any of that if Ellison tries for a buyout. It creates one more distraction for Apple (one they do not have time for) and will cause even more confusion among Wall Street, Journalists, and the industry.
  --Mark Munz

Ellison's heavenly mandate
Unfortunately, Apple has lost the Mandate of Heaven. Hardly anyone, even Apple fans like me, has faith in them to successfully maneuver a return to relevance. Even if Apple delivers Rhapsody on time and does a good job of it, there is a real possibility it just won't matter.

However, Apple is important to have around; with its superior and elegant user interfaces and pioneering multimedia technology, Apple set a benchmark that Microsoft had no choice but to acknowledge. Windows 95 might have been nearly as insufferable as Windows 3.1 if Macintosh had not set a standard for it to live up to. It is unfortunate that Apple then dropped the ball and allowed Microsoft to set the next standard.

Larry, however, has the Mandate of Heaven in spades. His personality is not necessarily the best match to Apple's, but if he is content to let the people at Apple do what they do well while using his not-insigificant clout to strategically position Apple back in the thick of things, it might work out well.
  --Jeff Weitzel

Ellison out to lunch?
Oracle is a database company, Apple is a hardware and an operating system company. Ellison must be having delusions of grandeur to:

  • think he can run a business like Apple
  • think anyone can save Apple at this point
  • think he can address Apple's problems that as an outsider, he can't even begin to comprehend.
  --Greg Gallent

No way, Larry
No. First, because anyone foolish enough to announce an intention to buy drives the price of the stock UP has to pay more. He obviously doesn't have any smarts that Apple needs.

Second, Apple doesn't need the constant distractions about its future to succeed. It needs time to develop its plan and [be allowed] to implement it. The PowerBook 3400 shows they can still build cool stuff. System 7.6 ditto. The press should start hounding Microsoft for the delay in Windows 97 and analyze which PC builder will suffer because there will be no excitement this Christmas.
  --Dave Bogart

Well! Let's look at at this way
It all depends from whose point of view.
From Ellison's point of view: Yes. Apple [stock] is at an all-time low. Buy while it's in trouble.

From Apple's point of view: No. Ellison is a Megalomaniac and will lose vision of Apple's true value.

From Netscape, Sun, IBM, And Every Bill Gate Hater: Yes. Ellison will throw Apple into the whole Internet fray and lend weight to the cross platform issue and the anti-Microsoft issue.

From Microsoft's point of view: Not really but doesn't matter all that much. Microsoft is in trouble with antitrust suits. Apple is the only thing that stands in the way of total desktop dominance. Microsoft needs Apple to avoid trust-busters.

From Mac User's point of view: Mixed. On the one hand, it will spur huge competition between Apple and Microsoft, which is good. On the other hand, Ellison doesn't know [much] about operating systems or the Apple core market, which is bad.

From Windows users' point of view: Not especially. For Windows users the only issue that matters is compatibility. If a Mac machine can read a Windows disk, that is good. If not, bad.

So the tally is 2 Yes, 3 No, 1 mixed.

The only real opinion, though, is Ellison's and [that of] the Anti-Microsoft faction. They have the money and if they want to buy the Cupertino company, now is a good time. They will get it for cheap.
  --Glen Lipka