Oracle pushes customers to buy online

Oracle last week said it is lowering the price of its database, streamlining its discounting and moving purchases to its Web site to reduce the cost of servicing client accounts and, ultimately, to increase the market for databases.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said 98% of Oracle's revenue has been individually negotiated. "That's how we've done business historically. It's been a manual process, not an e-business process. We can't continue to do this. We must push more business through the Web store," Ellison said.

The company said the new service would be available from last Friday. Initially, only customers with orders of less than $500,000 will use the site, but Oracle eventually wants to process orders of up to $1 million online.

The Oracle8 users at Digital Impact, an e-mail marketing firm, is Ellison's target: midsize start-ups with a sub-$1 million database budget.

John Sullivan, operations director at Digital Impact, said Oracle's Web sales model could be perfect if it automatically processes his order.

"If it's just an order queue and they hand it off to a person ... then I don't see any value," he said.

Oracle earlier announced its second-quarter net income was up 40% and its revenue was up 13% from the same quarter last year. Oracle's second quarter ended November 30.

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