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API Wars - Microsoft not learning from IBM

In his article Joel compares Microsoft and IBM and implies that Microsoft's financial momentum will carry it through just like IBMs did. That's true, of course, but is M$'s money and name that will not die. M$ as a cultural entity is vulnerable. Momentum can easily be turned against you. If you look at IBM today, it's a very different beast to the one that was around twenty years ago, just before Microsoft jumped on its back and dragged it, trunk and tusks waving, into the dust. IBM's financial might almost didn't carry the day and there were plenty of vultures just waiting to pick it apart.

Joel says that M$ has bet the farm on the rich client. That is a critical failure to learn from history. IBM bet the farm on big iron. There is still big iron around, but the market exploded around the PC and left the mainframe as a sideshow. In ten years, the rich client will be a sideshow and Microsoft will have been trampled.

If you bet the farm, the farm still exists after you loose it, it just belongs to someone else.

WoodenTongue
Thursday, June 17, 2004

IBM bet everything on the "one stop shop" that sold (leased) you lots of "custom" (read expensive) stuff (HW+SW+Consulting+Operations). They haven't changed one hair, they just repositioned some items in the basket and gave some a more "this season's" color.

Microsoft bet everything on creating a low-cost, mass market open ecosystem, in which they are top "platform and big apps" dog. they'll leave the hardware, custom development and small niche parts to the ISV's and provide them with lotts of tools, in exchange for taking a small piece of every deal in platform licences (which is why every single MS product is also an ISV building block with all the API's provided). They have not changed one hair, and are just providing "modern flavor" API's and building blocks.

It is just another round in the same old fight.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, June 17, 2004

It's a battle between intellect and suits.

Microsoft has always been a company that creates new software.

IBM has always been a company run by ruthless suits aka sales guys.


Thursday, June 17, 2004

"In ten years, the rich client will be a sideshow and Microsoft will have been trampled"

yep, i imagine that all photoshop artist uploads their 300 MB psd files for a central server to edit. yep, rich clients will disappear. stupid.

  
Thursday, June 17, 2004

"yep, i imagine that all photoshop artist uploads their 300 MB psd files for a central server to edit. yep, rich clients will disappear. stupid."

Read the post.

Rich clients will be the sideshow. That market won't dissapear, it will stay static while the rest of the market grows.

The web market consists of billions of low-to-medium demand users on the web. Billions of $10 sales beats thousands of $1000 sales. Guess where the talent will be headed ?



 

WoodenTongue
Thursday, June 17, 2004

"Microsoft jumped on its back and dragged it, trunk and tusks waving, into the dust. "

Are you talking about Win95 vs. OS/2?  Yeah - IBM couldn't market its way out of a wet paper bag in that respect.

But if you're talking about hardware competition then you are making an invalid comparison.

There are two posts on JoS today alone that imply that Microsoft computers have been the doom of another company's computers, when in fact Microsoft does not sell computers - never has, doesn't now, likely never will. 
They write the SOFTWARE that runs IN personal computers.

IBM made its fatal blunder, IMHO, by attempting to take back the PC market with the PS/2 and its expensive-to-license and -manufacture MCA bus, and by introducing that new line with slower processors, memory, and hard disks than other competitors were already supplying.  By the time the PS/2 hit the streets, there was plenty of competition faster and cheaper than IBM that was capable of running 99.999999% of the software written for DOS.  When IBM came out with a more expensive, slower computer as its next-generation systems, it wrote its own death warrant.

Microsoft was content to supply DOS and later Windows to anyone who wanted to license it.  They didn't take anything away from IBM.  IBM did that all by itself.

Karl Perry
Thursday, June 17, 2004

I wasn't talking about hardware competition. What would I argue ? IBM almost folded because it thought that the M$ keyboard would destroy its big iron market. Come on. I wasn't talking about hardware and you know it. Competition doesn't mean matching the opposition like for like, its about finding ways to damage your competition on their blindside. So while IBM was still heading down Big Iron Alley, M$ were moving the road under them toward the PC. M$ didn't have to sell any physical PCs, they sold the idea of the PC and they saw the potential much faster and more clearly than IBM.

One day someone plonked an (IBM) XT next to my dumb terminal and said, try this out. I did and never looked back and it wasn't the fabulous XT styling that turned my head it was what was the speed and colours inside the screen and it was all mine to play with. No timesharing. No half second response times every time I hit a key.

WoodenTongue
Friday, June 18, 2004

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