WSJ.com - Oracle's Larry Ellison Expects Greater Innovation From Sector ... "Mr. Ellison believes that tech firms have sown the seeds of their own demise by developing ever-more-complex "solutions," before identifying problems. Then, he says, tech firms try to fob these tough-to-use products onto unwitting customers. "We became the largest industry in the world by selling things that people didn't want to buy," he says.
Critics, of course, say this is precisely what Oracle has been doing since the company was founded. (An Oracle spokeswoman responds that the company has always tried to simplify products and services, when possible, to make them easier to use.)
Venture capitalists compound the problem, Mr. Ellison says, with a herd mentality that results in funding too many companies chasing the same idea. "Every child is unique; every computer doesn't have to be," he says.
But Oracle isn't above chasing technological fashion. The company has been moving aggressively in recent years to support Linux, an operating system maintained by a global army of volunteers. Mr. Ellison sees Linux as a competitive weapon against Microsoft. "You just can't fight it," Mr. Ellison says of Linux. "You embrace it or you die."
Oracle itself may be vulnerable to the same kind of "open source" technology -- cheap or free software whose underlying code is available to all users to freely customize. An open-source relational database called MySQL is gaining a small following among companies that don't like paying big fees to vendors such as Oracle.
Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Web-search company Google Inc. (www.google.com), says Mr. Ellison has correctly diagnosed Silicon Valley's challenge. He says tech is plagued with chronic overcapacity, similar to the airline industry, because of rapid technological advances. But Mr. Schmidt thinks Mr. Ellison has the wrong prescription. "The only solution is to come up with grand new visions, which we're particularly good at," he says."