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Oracle sees cellular future
October 12, 1999: 2:46 p.m. ET

Ellison says: 'Everyone's going to go online, all the time, everywhere'
By Staff Writer Rod Cant
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GENEVA (CNNfn) - It may sound incredible, but bitter technology rivals Bill Gates and Larry Ellison are thinking along the same lines.
     At least that's the message coming out of Telecom 99, the global communications fair being held in Geneva, Switzerland.
     In an interview with CNNfn, Ellison, chairman and chief executive of software database company Oracle Corp. (ORCL), highlighted the importance of the cellular phone for the next generation of technology services, echoing comments Gates made in a speech earlier in the day.
     Predictably, the two men don't see eye to eye on which company will benefit most from the anticipated explosion in wireless data services.
     Ellison claimed Microsoft's conversion to an Internet strategy "is about five years too late." Earlier Tuesday, Microsoft chairman Gates had told an audience at Telecom 99 that Microsoft had changed its mission statement for the first time in 25 years to include an emphasis on "anytime, anywhere" connectivity.
     "We 're not changing our strategy. We have an Internet strategy; we decided that four years ago," Ellison claimed.
     Clearly excited by the prospects for wireless Internet access, Ellison predicted, "This is the best period in Oracle's history."
     Ellison said he believes accessing the Web from cellular phones and devices such as televisions will mean "everyone's going online, all the time, everywhere."
     With that in mind, Oracle on Tuesday introduced a set of technologies, dubbed Portal-To-Go, designed to provide Internet access and e-commerce services through any wireless device.
     Along with e-commerce applications, Oracle envisions Portal-To-Go as a delivery system for maps and directions for business travelers, mobile stock trading and flight information.
     "I can check the Oracle stock price with this," Ellison said, waving a digital cellular phone, "and then maybe decide to pick up some more stock with it."
     The catalyst for this Net revolution will be Europe, because "Europe has a two-year lead over the U.S. in this (cellular Net access) technology," Ellison said. "Europe has the most advanced devices, the most advanced technology and the lowest prices [for cellular calls], so if wireless access to the Internet takes off anywhere, it'll take off in Europe."
     Ellison refused to admit the PC is finished. "It's not dead, but it's changing," he said, echoing comments IBM (IBM) chief Lou Gerstner made in an interview with CNNfn earlier in the week.
     The enthusiasm of Ellison and Gates, two of the technology world's most watched gurus, reflected announcements Monday by PC manufacturer Hewlett-Packard (HWP). New chief executive Carly Fiorina, also speaking at Telecom 99, announced a tie with cellular manufacturer Nokia and plans to launch a series of mobile "cellular bazaars," starting with Finland. Back to top


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