2004: A Tumultuous Year for Enterprise Apps

Opinion: The unending buyout battle between Oracle and PeopleSoft dominated the news in the enterprise applications field, along with the surprising renewal of the browser wars and the vigorous development of new search engine services.

The past year has been remarkable for the number of issues in the enterprise applications software story that still remain unresolved from a year ago.

Few would have predicted that Oracle and PeopleSoft would still be locked in the bruising takeover battle that has persisted for nearly 18 months, making it one of the most hard-fought buyout disputes in recent memory.

But after a full year of government regulatory decisions, court trials, a failed proxy vote, and the interminable pandering for shareholder sale commitments, Oracle has neither succeeded in taking over PeopleSoft nor shown any sign it will ever give up the chase.

Still more curious is the rise of a crowd of search engines from companies large and small that are more advanced search technology aimed at keeping them in the race with Google. In 2003 it was practically revealed faith that Google had the market locked up, and it seemed nonsensical that anybody would be willing to invest heavily in new search technology to challenge that position.

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But every major contender, including Yahoo, America Online, and AskJeeves on down to Copernic Technologies spinoff Coveo Solutions, as well as startups Blinkx and X1 Technologies, are all jostling to get at least a sliver of the search industry pie.

As it does in most other technology sectors, Microsoft wants to make a big dent in this market with its own search engine next year. Meanwhile, old standby AltaVista, along with Vivisimo and LookSmart, all remain in contention.

A key new development in 2004 was the emergence of local search services from Google, Yahoo and AskJeeves to help users find business services in their area and to encourage businesses to purchase local online advertising.

The rapid development of local search services prompted SBC Communications and BellSouth to purchase YellowPages.com, an online local search directory, to allows these old-line publishers of Yellow Page directoriess to keep pace with Internet search giants.

Equally remarkable are the new developments in the Internet browser field, where a year ago it appeared that there was little point in trying to develop new products in a market that was thoroughly dominated by Microsofts Internet Explorer. Why would anyone invest in creating and supporting a new browser when 95 percent of the Internet-savvy population was using Explorer? the thinking went.

Next Page: Mozilla challenges Internet Explorer.

John Pallatto

John Pallatto

John Pallatto has been editor in chief of QuinStreet Inc.'s eWEEK.com since October 2012. He has more than 40 years of experience as a professional journalist working at a daily newspaper and...