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) -- There's nothing the tech sector likes more than watching a couple of Silicon Valley heavyweights square off against each other. Just look at the level of interest in



ongoing courtoom brawl




and Larry Ellison's

angry tirades

against new




Léo Apotheker.

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Then there's Mr. Dell and Mr. Jobs, who both have indulged in the occasional beef, like Jobs' recent

war of words




over the software maker's

ubiquitous Flash technology


Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO

It's not just CEOs, though, that are prone to the occasional outburst. With technology playing an increasingly large part in our daily lives, even the President has taken a swipe, warning about

the risks posed by the latest gadgetry.

Here, then, are five of the tech sector's top tirades and feuds of recent years.

No. 5: Michael Dell vs. Apple

The contenders: Dell CEO vs. Apple CEO

The tale of the tape:

Way back in 1997, when Apple's Newton was still a going concern, the Dell CEO fired a jab at Apple and its then interim-CEO Steve Jobs. The Mac maker, of course, was not yet the iPad-wielding powerhouse of today; Dell was asked at an analyst event what he thought could be done to sort out the problems over in Cupertino.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders,"

was the blunt response from the Dell CEO, a clear retort to Jobs' jibe that Dell makes

"un-innovative beige boxes."

Round 2:

Steve Jobs never forgets, apparently. Fast forward eight years: Jobs enjoyed a major gloat when Apple's market cap finally surpassed that of his Texan rival. Not one to miss an opportunity to prove Apple's awesomeness, Jobs

fired off an email to his employees


"Team, it turned out that Michael Dell wasn't perfect at predicting the future," he noted. "Based on today's stock market close, Apple is worth more than Dell. Stocks go up and down, and things may be different tomorrow, but I thought it was worth a moment of reflection today."

Ouch. Incidentally, Apple's market cap was $290.47 billion at Thursday's close, while Dell's was $27.09 billion.

No. 4: Barack Obama vs. the iPad

The contenders:

The commander-in-chief, and, well, modern gadgetry.

The tale of the tape:

This one's not so much a feud, it's more of an outburst against mobile devices and their potential for turning productive members of society into slackers. Addressing the graduating class at Hampton University earlier this year, Obama warned that the latest gadgets are

placing new pressures on American democracy.

Round 1:

"With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," he said, according to the

New York Post


Clearly, the President has never wiled away a few non-productive days watching

American Idol

or following Snooki's adventures on

Jersey Shore

. There's a big world of mindless distractions out there, and they are not all tech-related.

Obama's comments were

also surprising

, given his reputation as something of a BlackBerry-loving techie. At least he did acknowledge the government's need to adjust to new technologies. "We can't stop these changes," he told students. "But we can adapt to them -- and education is what can allow us to do so."

No. 3: Larry Ellison vs. HP

The contenders:

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and new HP chief Léo Apotheker.

The tale of the tape:

The feisty Oracle supremo set his sights on HP new boy Apotheker. Ellison

launched a stinging attack

on Apotheker, alleging that he oversaw a scheme to steal Oracle's software during his previous role as CEO of software giant SAP. HP, in turn, has accused Oracle of harassment, saying that the database giant wants to interfere with Apotheker's duties as CEO.

Legal fisticuffs:

Oracle is now embroiled in a courtroom battle with SAP over the

level of damages

that should be awarded after the German firm admitted wrongdoing.

Not content with

swinging at Apotheker

and SAP, though, Ellison has also gone after HP, speculating that the computer maker would keep its new CEO away from its Palo Alto headquarters, outside the court's jurisdiction, to avoid a subpoena.

Experts have already warned that Ellison's belligerent stance against HP could

backfire in the long term.

No. 2: Larry Ellison vs. IBM

The contenders:

In the red corner, Larry Ellison (again!) and in the blue corner, Armonk, N.Y.-based powerhouse




The tale of the tape:


launched a haymaker

last year, blasting IBM for allegedly claiming that Oracle would get rid of the hardware business acquired via

Sun Microsystems


To further his point, Ellison touted Sun's SPARC technology as the best processor architecture in the world.

Channeling another famous hard man, Ellison also urged IBM to "make our day," and offered a $10 million prize to anyone who could prove that Oracle's database software doesn't

run at least twice as fast

on Sun servers as it does on IBM's fastest hardware. Clearly warming to his theme, Ellison invited IBM to take up the $10 million challenge.

Going the distance:

Unfazed By Ellison's barbs, IBM has continued to needle its database rival, even

dangling $500 million worth of financial incentives

in front of Sun's partners to get them to move over to IBM. This week, IBM announced it had grabbed nearly 400 customers from Oracle/Sun and HP during the third quarter.

Over in Redwood Shores, Ellison said that

Oracle's Exadata database machine

has been

gaining share from IBM

. With

both companies

hitting the

acquisition trail

to bolster their armories, expect this brawl to run and run.

No. 1: Steve Jobs vs. Adobe

The contenders:



CEO Steve Jobs and Flash-maker Adobe.

The tale of the tape:

Apple and Adobe are daggers drawn

following Apple's decision

not to offer Flash

on its iPhones, iPods and iPads. Jobs even

hammered Flash

in an open letter that appeared on his company's Web site, slamming Flash's security, reliability, and performance.

This, however, was not all one-way traffic, and Adobe accused Apple of turning the iPhone OS into a "closed, locked-down platform." Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen also attacked Apple in an interview with

The Wall Street Journal


>>Adobe CFO: Flash Debate Won't Hurt Sales

A tactical fight:

Apple, of course, wants to steer developers towards its own application base, although there has been speculation that its aggressive anti-Flash strategy could work in Adobe's favor,

pushing it closer to Apple's many competitors.

Despite some


that the companies may

kiss and make up

, Apple remains largely content to shun Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads,

urging developers to get behind the HTML5 Web standard

. Jobs didn't even acknowledge Adobe's technology when an analyst asked him for an update on the issue recently. "Flash memory; we love Flash memory," he quipped.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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