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Turf wars and Mouth Wide Shut

Joel's article presents a strategy as the right one, but I think he is making a virtue out of a necessity.  It really depends on the company.  Business is like a turf war, and what you do depends on how much turf (market share) you own.

Big companies own a lot of turf and are generally in a defensive posture, protecting their market share.  For them, pre-announcing features is beneficial.  People are buying their product *because* it's the market leader; features are not a primary buying criteria.  Secondly, as market leader people are more likely to pay attention to an announcement.  People expect the market leader to make a lot of noise; hence a steady stream of announcements about up-coming versions, strategic partnerships, etc.

Small companies don't own much turf and therefore need to take an offensive stance.  And for offense, surprise is a key tactic.  They know that innovations are easily copied, especially in software -- look how fast IE caught up to Netscape.  Also, small companies come and go; their announcements are not taken with as much weight.

So, for small companies, Mouth Wide Shut is a good strategy.

IanRae
Friday, January 17, 2003

Townsend has some good things to say about this in _Further Up the Organization_

Danil
Friday, January 17, 2003

"People expect the market leader to make a lot of noise; hence a steady stream of announcements about up-coming versions, strategic partnerships, etc."

BigCo's also use this noise to increase their stock market value.

Leonardo Herrera
Sunday, January 19, 2003

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