Whopping Wednesday: Apple, Oracle + Sun and SAP Make Their Big Announcements

High-tech goes all Hollywood this week, and the A-list tech stars are making big news: Apple, Oracle, Sun and SAP.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010: A day that will live in infamy (for some high-tech luminaries) and distinction (for others) for years to come.

That's because on this seemingly boring mid-winter "hump day," several significant happenings are afoot in the enterprise software and high-tech worlds—not to mention the World Economic Forum that also commences on Wednesday and the corporate earnings season that kicks off the same week.

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In the high-tech universe, the stars that are aligning to produce some serious news are the brightest that tech's got. Here's what's on tap:

Event: Oracle + Sun Unveiling

Why It's Significant: The curtain finally goes up on 'Snoracle,' with a live Webcast at 9 a.m. (Pacific). What Oracle is promising customers from the Oracle + Sun union: "Transforming the Way You Buy, Run, and Manage Your Business Systems." That's it?

Subplots: Will there be Sun layoffs—and how many (anywhere near one analyst's prediction of 13,500)? Will Oracle be able to quickly integrate and sell all Sun has to offer? What about the fates of MySQL and Java? What are the long-term implications for 'Snoracle' customers—is Oracle getting too big? And will the now-infamous co-President Charles Phillips be visible?

Related Observation: "Upon change in control, every employee needs to emotionally resign from Sun. Go home, light a candle, and let go of the expectations and assumptions that defined Sun as a workplace. Honor and remember them, but let them go." —Sun CEO Jon Schwartz, in an internal memo

Event: Apple's Magical Mystery Product

Why It's Significant: Just another ho-hum new product announcement for Apple—naahhhhh. Everyone in the known universe, it seems, is waiting on bated breath to hear about iTablet, iSlate, iSlab or iPod Tablet Edition.

Subplots: Does an Apple Tablet actually exist? If it does, what will be the economics (a.k.a. "the price point") that make it work for Apple and its legions of fanboys?

Related Observation: A tweet from @GeoffreyRoche: "Apple announces debut of Tablet early. Good for curing H1N1, headaches and chicken pox. And it's a floor wax."

Event: SAP's Quarterly Results

Why It's Significant: SAP announces its fourth quarter and 2009 year-end financial results.

Subplots: After a disappointing Q3, SAP pre-announced Q4 earnings "highlights": a 9 percent drop in quarterly revenues and a 16 percent plunge in software revenue. (This was, apparently, a good thing, SAP contended.) How will SAP spin 2009 results? What will be the lasting effect of SAP's new two-tiered maintenance and support offering? Has SAP become too big and too slow to compete in today's environment?

Related Observation: "The genie is out of the bottle: SAP's decision to backpedal [on maintenance pricing] may very well mark a point of inflection for the software industry as a whole. Negotiating maintenance down is 'in'—it may very well become a key topic at golf courses." —SAP analyst and consultant Helmuth Gumbel, from a CIO.com article

Many industry observers are pointing to the coincidental timing of Oracle's webcast—on the day when it'll be all Apple, all the time. (Whether Larry Ellison is trying to conceal Sun layoffs or steal Apple's thunder with Oracle + Sun hype is a good question.) But one thing is clear, notes a Forbes.com blog: "On Wednesday we will gather not to praise Sun Microsystems, but to bury it."

As to the furious scheduling of Wednesday and this busy week, enjoy the buzz, because it doesn't happen all that often.

"It's rare to have so many high profile events happen on one day in the tech world," says Ray Wang, a partner with the analyst firm Altimeter Group, via e-mail. "But it's a reminder that the market is looking for inspiration (Apple), validation (Oracle-Sun), and direction (SAP)."

Do you Tweet? Follow me on Twitter @twailgum. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline.

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