The dust is settling from SAP's bombshell acquisition of Sybase
for approximately $5.8 billion this week. By all accounts, the deal changes the enterprise IT landscape, and not just the mobile landscape. It's the first time we have seen a stalwart enterprise software company make such a big and bold move into mobile outside of the handset or operating system game. Here's an eight-bit byte of questions we hope to see answered in the next few months.
- Why did SAP pay so much -- did they have information that another buyer was preparing to make a move? Is SAP simply more optimistic than most people about future growth of enterprise mobility? (Are we in the enterprise mobility community underestimating the importance of Sybase's high-end database and text-messaging management products?)
- Was there some unquantifiable amount of merely showing up arch-rival Oracle?
- Rather than enter the database business, why not buy a standalone platform company like Syclo instead, and pick up some smaller companies to fill any holes?
- What does the deal mean for Sybase customers who aren't interested in becoming SAP customers, and for SAP customers who prefer some mobile technology other than Sybase's?
- What does this all mean for Sybase's mobile competitors, mainly Antenna Software, Syclo, and Spring Wireless? Presumably they are celebrating imminently and massively higher valuations.
- Beyond the question of which MEAP vendor could be acquired next, who will do the acquiring? A carrier, such as AT&T buying existing partner Antenna -- which is also and conveniently an Apple partner? Oracle could grab Syclo, as Syclo is an SAP partner, thereby returning fire in the corporate ego game. Microsoft may also be lurking for a deal -- Windows Phone 7 thus far is hugely consumer-centric, so Redmond might need an injection of mobile business sense sometime soon.
- Long-term, does this news signify the start of a new trend -- a world in which enterprise customers will take for granted that all major software will come with mobile versions, and that business software without a mobile version will be conspicuously old-fashioned?
- Also long-term, is desktop-to-mobile middleware massively moot when HTML 5 arrives?