Can the PC rival the Unix workstation? (September 1996)

PDM examines the state of the art in E&P computing and asks 'Can the PC really replace the Unix workstation in E&P computing?'

One company which would like to see this happen is GeoGraphix, Inc. (Denver, Colorado) who have just announced the release of PRIZM, described as "the most intuitive and powerful PC-based multi-well log analysis system available in the industry" (see below). Of course, since their acquisition by Landmark in 1995 (who were themselves acquired by Halliburton in July) for some $15.4 million, this could potentially involve a kind of intra-corporate struggle for market share.


Robert Peebler, Landmark president and CEO believes that "there is a growing need for both GeoGraphix' smaller-scale systems for basic geological and engineering problems, as well as Landmark's traditional solutions designed for the rigorous demands of complex reservoir characterization." But this is questionable in view of the increasing power of the PC, the touted robustness of Windows NT, and the groundswell of end users who have been seduced by the PC's cheapness and interoperability by design. At the time of the acquisition, Peebler announced Landmark's strategy of expanding its base of business to include broader product lines, multiple market segments, geographical dispersion, and extended service offerings.

heavy duty

But is the market really segmented in this way? During the early days of the PC a similar debate was heard covering a variety of applications notable word processors and spreadsheets, with protagonists of "heavy duty" applications advocating software such as 20/20, a time shared mainframe based spreadsheet, leaving the "lower" end of the marketplace to "toys" like Lotus 123. Now all these office automation apps run on PCs - mainly because of the cost advantage. Because of their huge market share, PC packages are very cheap. This argument must be of less importance in the low volume vertical marketplace of E&P software, but their are other dimensions to

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