Eye on Oracle

Apr 5 2012   7:43PM GMT

Oracle vs. HP- Or, how the corporate world is really a lot like grade school

Lena Weiner Lena Weiner Profile: Lena Weiner

Things don’t always go the way we plan them to.

In the case of the ill-fated Itanium chip, multiple companies, including HP and Intel, got a lesson in failure. The now famous debacle has been coined “the joke of the chip industry” by tech blogger Ashlee Vance and the phrase Itanic gets bandied about from time to time. Much of the computing world has more or less decided to move on and, as of March 23, 2011, Oracle made it clear that they would no longer be developing products that would be supported by Itanium. HP responded by suing Oracle. Oracle being Oracle, countersued. The rest, as they say, is history. Oracle hiring many HP alumni for high-level positions exacerbates the bad blood between the two companies as well.

The two were set to go to trial on May 31st, but are now asking a federal judge to settle the matter out of court. No one really seems to know why, but my suspicion is that HP realized they really have no court case to speak of — while Oracle was being their usual mind-game playing selves, they weren’t doing anything illegal.

What is there to learn from this?

What I came away with is that the business world really is a lot like elementary school. Kid A (HP) gets mad because Kid B (Oracle) won’t be their best friend (continue using their famously bad Itanium chips). So, Kid A tells the teacher (sues in court) that Kid B is guilty of various classroom infractions (breach of contract, etc). Everyone gets all up in arms, and it looks for a bit like Kid B might really be in trouble. Kid B tells the teacher that Kid A is actually the bad kid (countersues), and then starts hanging out with a bunch of Kid A’s former friends (hires former employees), making fun of Kid A the whole time. In the end, though, it turns out that Kid B, while being a generally jerky kid, hasn’t actually done anything against the rules. Both kids ask the hall monitor (federal court judge) to sort the whole thing out. Within a few weeks, both parties will probably be going to each other’s birthday parties (signing new contracts for different products) and picking on other kids (suing other companies).

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