Advice for the Department of Justice, Apple
Are they missing anything else?
Far be it from me to tell the richest, most successful company in the
history of the earth what they're missing. But if they keep living in
the present and mistake the present for the future, that's a problem. Steve
Ballmer is very smart and now that Ballmer is running the company, you're
already seeing a lot of changes.
The point about Windows CE. Is there anything concrete that Microsoft
could do in terms of making that transition? We thought Ballmer was chained
to NT for the profit margins.
That's what's so deadly. You're wedded to this for the profit margins. But
they're not going to come. If all you're going to run is a browser and
maybe Microsoft Office on a desktop computer, do you really need NT
underneath it? It's crazy. You need a fairly simple computer and computers
are going to get cheaper, not more expensive; they're going to get simpler,
not more complex. NT is a complicated beast.
What remedies are appropriate to rein in Microsoft?
Microsoft should be broken up into four companies, all of which have access
to all of the technology. It's very silly to break Microsoft into a
Microsoft Office company and a Microsoft Windows company--then you've got
two companies, both monopolies, which makes no sense at all. You've got
two monsters instead of one, like those horrible sci-fi movies.
If you want real competition, which spurs innovation and lowers prices,
then you have to break the company up. You get competition immediately and
there will be tremendous innovation. And then [the Department of]
Justice can just back off. They don't have to regulate it.
Let's talk about Oracle. After the last fiscal quarter, some analysts
said the new Oracle 8i database is a good product, but it won't counteract
the slower applications sales. What's your reaction to that?
Our products have never been more competitive. We have the only database
aimed at the Internet. We have the only applications that run 100 percent
pure Web. Other people have some Web stuff, but we're 100 percent pure:
Everything is for a Web browser. We're the only Enterprise Resource
Planning vendor that also has CRM, customer relationship management. So
we're unique. We're in great shape product-wise. Now for the quarter: We're
up 36 percent in profits, 19 percent in revenue. Now, if I can do that again
for every quarter for the next five years, where do I sign up?
How are you going to account for the slower ERP sales as businesses
focus their efforts on the Year 2000 bug?
Baan and PeopleSoft are in very serious trouble. As powerful as SAP is,
they're going to be damaged. As we approach Y2K we can just see the
fall-off in ERP. Now we are somewhat insulated from that. ERP is a small
portion of our business.
We're diversified. We have databases and a
front-office business which is growing very rapidly, which we expect to be
larger than our back-office.
What's the next step for Apple?
Apple has the potential of being the
great provider of digital appliances in the future. So look at Sony
as the No. 1 analog-appliance manufacturer. Who is going to be the No. 1 digital-appliance manufacturer? Have the world's coolest TV/computer
combination you have in your room that looks really great? The "wow, got to
have that" kind of stuff. I think that's what Apple should do. I've seen
some of their new products coming downstream--and you want them.
What are your thoughts on America Online's recent purchase of Netscape?
One of the saddest things that ever happened in Silicon Valley is the
demise of Netscape. The stock is
through the roof and guys made money and that's great, but this is the most
innovative company in Silicon Valley in a decade and it was decimated by
Microsoft. The biggest, toughest company in the world decided to destroy
the most innovative company in the world--and they did it.
That's why I'm rooting for the Justice Department. I think what Microsoft
did was illegal, immoral. And then for Microsoft to say, "All we want is a
chance to innovate." Wasn't it Netscape that did it? I mean, that is the
most cynical, hypocritical, terrible thing I've heard ever in this
industry. It's viscerally upsetting.
Bill [Gates] destroyed Netscape. He did it illegally, going beyond
giving browsers away for free. He paid people to use his browser, to not use
Netscape's browser. We'll miss Netscape. I think we will all be using
software that's not as good as it would have been. Innovation will have
been dramatically slowed.
You were recently quoted as saying you have an interest in becoming
governor of California. When do you plan to run for office?
I was at U.C.-Berkeley, I was being interviewed, and I said I wasn't
interested in running for office. But then he asked another question, which
was, "Would anything make you run for office?"
I said, "There are a few things I feel passionately about: education,
medical research. But if I felt I could radically reform education in
California, if I thought I could make a huge difference and make the world
better, then yes, I would run for office."
I pick up the newspaper and it says, "Larry Ellison running for governor."
I'm actually very happy with my job here at Oracle. I have no real ambition
to become governor. I worked with the last governor, and I will work with
this governor trying to reform education because it is an absolute disaster.