March 1992

Mud flies in Sun-NeXT skirmish

by Dan Ruby

Mountain View, CA: The war of words between NeXT and Sun Microsystems escalated last month when Sun's direct sales force began using a sales presentation taking direct aim at its smaller competitor. NeXT responded with an open letter from Steve Jobs to Sun customers disputing points made in the Sun presentation.

According to NeXT, the presentation included misleading and erroneous information about NeXT products and the company itself. "Instead of providing a coherent technical comparison, the presentation is filled with random innuendo," said Ron Weissman, NeXT director of strategic marketing.

The Sun presentation was given to several of NeXT's biggest customers in the U.S. and Europe and was also shown at a recent Sybase user conference. "The good news is that Sun is taking us seriously. The elephant has noticed the scorpion," Weissman said.

A Sun spokeswoman declined to comment.

NeXT may have provoked the controversy with its recent video comparing the ease of programming on NeXT versus Sun systems and the repeated claim by Jobs that NeXT consistently wins sales when competing with Sun. NeXT intends to distribute copies of the presentation and its reply at SunWorld Expo next month.

"This controversy is not surprising. Backbiting and mudslinging is a traditional part of the UNIX market," said Nina Lytton, editor of Open Systems Advisor in Boston.

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