SAP was able to increase sales in the United States for the 14th consecutive quarter of double-digit growth as the world's largest maker of business software continued to sell more products to existing customers and nibble away at the customer base of rival Oracle.SAP was able to increase sales in the United States for the 14th consecutive quarter of double-digit growth, as the world's largest maker of business software continued to sell more products to existing customers and nibble away at the customer base of rival Oracle.In the United States, software-license revenue in the first quarter rose 25%, to $204 million as of March 31, the last day in the period being reported. Revenue in the Americas was up 47% in the quarter compared with the same period a year earlier.Total first-quarter sales, including revenue from maintenance and service contracts that are driven by the sales of new licenses, grew 18%, while net income climbed 11%."The U.S. will continue to be our growth driver," said Leo Apotheker, SAP board member and president of customer solutions and operations, in a conference call with analysts. "There are many opportunities for us in this marketplace."The Walldorf, Germany, company signed 40 deals in the first quarter of this year under its Safe Passage program, said CEO Henning Kagermann. Safe Passage is designed to woo away customers using business software applications from PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards, which were acquired by Oracle.On the subject of rumors that SAP could itself be the target of a takeover bid by IBM, Kagermann said he saw no reason to change the current relationship of close cooperation between the two firms.Software revenue in the European, Middle East and Africa region increased 7%, with revenue in Germany up 8% over last year's first quarter.Revenue in the Asia-Pacific region increased 12%, despite an 18% drop in Japan.SAP reiterated its aim to increase software license revenue by 15% to 17% this year.Kagermann described 2006 as a "cornerstone year" in which new products will be the foundation for growthLater this year, the company plans to offer mySAP All-in-One on the company's new business-process platform, which is based on a service-oriented architecture, Kagermann said.All-in-One, a trimmed-down version of its mySAP Business Suite targeting midsize businesses, will be the first product available on the new platform into which the company's NetWeaver integration software will evolve.Plans to form a workers' council in the company have "nothing to do with getting a union," Kagermann said. "I expect we'll have a high percentage of people in the council who will want to preserve the SAP culture."Last month, SAP agreed to allow a workers' council after three employees, also members of the IG Metall union, threatened to take the company to court over the issue.