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IDC: IT mind share confused

The firm's latest survey says vendor noise is increasing senior IS executives' uncertainty about whom to rely on for Internet technologies.

Vendor noise is increasing the uncertainty among senior IS executives about whom to rely on for Internet technologies, according to a survey released today by International Data Corporation, an analyst firm.

Although Microsoft's mind share remains dominant at 24.2 percent, the percentage of corporate computing executives unsure about which vendor to rely on grew from 39.1 percent last year to 45.8 percent this year.

"In spite of all the time, effort, and money major vendors are putting into promoting themselves as leaders in the Web, fewer customers are buying those messages," said Frank Gens, IDC's senior vice president of research. IT buyers aren't convinced all the players are cooperating on common standards, he suggested.


CNET Radio talks to IDC's Frank Gens
 
"Customers are not excited about the prospect of more fragmentation of IT in the Internet space. The great appeal of the Internet was standards that flattened incompatibilities among vendors," Gens added. "Now there's apparently a shift by Microsoft toward a more proprietary tone, and we've seen a weakening of Netscape, which had been a chief proponent of Internet standards.

"Put those together, and customers are saying the vendors seem more interested in their own future than in helping us," the IDC researcher said.

Meanwhile, IBM's mind share blossomed from 3.1 percent a year ago to 9.9 percent today, in part because it's marketing the "e-business" concept across its offerings. Buyers' uncertainty about Netscape's long-term viability has cost that company dearly, as its mind share slipped from 9.6 percent in 1997 to 2.7 percent in the latest results, according to Gens.

IDC chart

IDC thinks Web mind share will translate into market share, Gens said, although IDC offers no evidence of that contention.

Microsoft's momentum as an Internet vendor has slowed considerably, Gens said, noting that the company's mind share slipped from 25.6 percent a year ago to 24.2 percent this year. In IDC's 1996 survey, Microsoft's mind share was about 4 percent--the big jump a year later followed Microsoft's leap onto the Internet bandwagon.

Gens suggested Microsoft's mind share stalled because of its apparent move toward more proprietary technologies.

The big decline in Netscape's mindshare puts pressure on the company to make bold moves, Gens said, reiterating his suggestion that Netscape might be boosted by being acquired. He mentioned Oracle as a potential acquirer.

"Netscape's Internet story needs an enterprise strength, and Oracle's enterprise story needs some Internet strength," Gens said. "Netscape's mind share could rise as quickly as it dropped if customers felt a greater confidence in their viability."

But the increase in IT executives who have no preference in their most trusted Internet vendor means opportunities are greater now than 18 months ago for a company to boost its mind share.

Compaq and Hewlett-Packard scored less than 1 percent market share in the survey.