|View from the Hill Re:
by Zsolt Kerekes,
editor - November 2001
|In the early 1990's you'd be surprised
how many companies marketed SPARC workstations. Desktop SPARC workstation
makers listed in the SPARC Product Directory included:- |
Research, Array Consultants, Axil, Bustec, Concorde Group, Dataman, DTK
Computer, EKF-Elektronik, EOS, GNP Computers, HAL Computer, ICL, Integrix,
Mobius, OEM Engines, Pinnacle Data Systems, Solbourne, Solflower, Sanar Systems,
Tatung, Transtec, Trigem, and Sun Microsystems.
The large number of
market entrants was fuelled by business plans which suggested that this market
would be like the PC market, with no single company getting more than 10% market
However, Sun Microsystems proved to be better at marketing than
most of these wannabe SPARC workstation vendors, and so names like Solbourne,
Axil Computer, HAL Computer and Ross Technology etc got consigned to the dustbin
An added complication was that the performance of Intel
Architecture PC's continued to rise, and by
quarterly shipments of SPARC workstations were not only declining in market
share terms, but also in absolute unit quantities. You wouldn't know this, if
you relied on reading Sun's cleverly crafted press releases, which continued
proclaiming that they were getting increased market share, even while their unit
quantities were going down...
Although this product category will
survive in special applications areas like EDA, and software development for
SPARC servers, Sun's vaunted hope of stealing the desktop market away from
Wintel was never a serious prospect to anyone who didn't work for the company.
Sun's key strength was, and remains, servers.
In contrast to the
desktop, the SPARC portable market continues to show strong growth. That's a
product area in which Sun has never been successful with its own products. But
Sun is a significant reseller of SPARC notebooks.