Tech tapas: Larry Ellison’s bold words, bill boosts Netflix, Apple-Samsung damages

A quick look at what’s new in the tech world this morning:

• You can always count on Oracle CEO Larry Ellison to keep things interesting. The Redwood City software giant beat analysts’ expectations with an 18 percent jump in quarterly earnings Tuesday, and Ellison had some eyebrow-raising comments on the subject.

Ellison seemed particularly pleased at Oracle’s gains in cloud computing that came at the expense of Pleasanton-based rival Workday. “We’re at the stage where we’re winning the majority of deals and competes against Workday,” Ellison said in a conference call, according to Information Age. “We’re beating them in North America, and we’re almost shutting them out in Europe. It’s very, very exciting.”

Workday, which went public in October, was founded by former PeopleSoft CEO Dave Duffield, who was forced to sell that company to Oracle in 2005 in a bitter hostile takeover. With no love lost between the two executives, one analyst described the Oracle-Workday rivalry as “good vs. evil: Larry Ellison, prince of darkness, vs. David Duffield, the white knight.”

Over on the hardware side, while quarterly revenue was down 23 percent, Ellison maintained that things would soon turn around as the company phased in higher-margin server products, and made a bold defense of Oracle’s 2010 acquisition of Sun Microsystems, which has been considered by many a failure.

“Sun has proven to be one of the most strategic and profitable acquisitions we have ever made,” Ellison said, according to Business Insider. “Sun technology enabled Oracle to become a leader in the highly profitable engineered system segment of the hardware business. I believe that products like Exadata and the SPARC SuperCluster will not only continue to drive improved profitability in our hardware business, by the end of this fiscal year, they will also drive growth in our hardware business.”

• Netflix cheered the passage of a House bill Tuesday that would loosen restrictions on sharing people’s video-viewing habits. If approved (as expected) by the Senate, the change to the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act would ease the way for Netflix users to share which movies and TV shows they’re watching and recommend favorites with Facebook friends, a feature long sought by the Los Gatos streaming video company.

“We are pleased the house has moved to modernize the VPPA, giving consumers more freedom to share with friends when they want. We look forward to swift action in the Senate,” Netflix said in a statement.

Netflix also got a boost today as Nintendo announced a new TV service for its Wii U video game console. The service, TVii, opens up the console to streaming content, including Netflix, Amazon and Hulu Plus.

• The issue of damages appears to be next on the agenda for Judge Lucy Koh, as she reviews the Apple-Samsung patent case that ended in August with a $1.05 billion judgement against the South Korean tech giant. Bloomberg News reports Apple is seeking even more damages, asking Koh to award an additional $536 million to it. Samsung, on the other hand, is looking to reduce the amount awarded by about $600 million.

“There’s not going to be any knockout punches between these two competitors,” Yankee Group analyst Carl Howe told Bloomberg. “Injunctions can be knockouts. This is going to be a war of money.”

Earlier this week, Koh denied Apple’s bid for a ban on sales of Samsung devices that were found to have violated Apple patents, which may indicate she’s unlikely to raise the amount of damages, and may be open to reducing them. There’s no timeline for Koh to issue her ruling on the matter.


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