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6/4/2004
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Database Sales On Slow Growth Track

IDC figures show revenue rose 7.6% in 2003, although much of that improvement was because of exchange-rate conditions in Europe.

Sales of relational and object-relational databases grew slowly in 2003, according to an IDC report released Friday. But that still beats the 2% sales decline database software vendors suffered in 2002.

The relational database market grew 7.6% last year to $13.6 billion, the report says. But most of that growth, calculated in U.S. dollars, was because of currency-exchange-rate changes in Europe. The real growth rate was closer to 2% in constant currency, the report says. IDC projects the database market will reach $20 billion by 2008.

Oracle, which reported 8.6% database revenue growth to $5.4 billion in 2003, is the market leader, with a 39.8% market share. IBM, which recorded 5.5% revenue growth to $4.3 billion, came in second in market share, with 31.3%. Microsoft recorded a hefty 14.7% revenue growth, albeit slower than in 2002, to capture the third spot, with a 12.1% market share.

The Oracle database's clustering capabilities, which make it possible to lash together multiple low-cost servers to achieve better computing performance, was a major factor behind the sales growth, says Robert Shimp, Oracle's database product marketing VP. "Certainly in 2003, one of the big themes among our customers was cost savings," he said.

Gartner's database market numbers, issued last month, gave IBM the top market position. Gartner calculated the size of the 2003 database market at $7.1 billion, with 5.1% growth--although the market-research firm also attributed most of that growth to currency-exchange-rate changes. Market numbers from the two firms differ because, among other reasons, Gartner only counts software license revenue, while IDC adds maintenance revenue to the mix.

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