More CPow thoughts

Another example of CPow/commoditization - this one from the computer history books:

Way back in the 1980s, UNIX vendors gave away C compilers with the operating system - "cc" was just part of the command line, like "ls" or "dir". In the PC industry, compilers were still something you payed for, but in the UNIX world it was a commodity - if we give you the compiler for free with our platform, you'll pay for the platform and keep using it. A great example of CPow in action.

(I remember in the early 1990s when Sun decided not to include a compiler with Solaris - but by that time pretty much everyone was using gcc anyway so it didn't really matter. But there was widespread disbelief.)

Microsoft now gives away Visual Studio Express Edition - presumably for the same reason.  (You don't think Microsoft makes money on dev tools, do you? It's all about pushing the platform!)

Scoble is currently calling out "Disruption!" when he sees this happening. He's watching Google, Yahoo!, Amazon, and Microsoft fight it out in the AJAX-map/local-search space (*sniff* - no-one mentions ever mentions mine). They're stumbling over themselves fighting to be the API of choice for developers to build next-gen web applications with.

This is nothing new! Being the platform of choice is what UNIX vs. VMS, Mac vs. PC, Windows vs. OS/2, Linux vs. Everyone Else has been about. I think what's difference is the speed and the lack of coupling. Scoble changed his blog provider a few weeks back; he's no longer coupled to a particular solution. With disconnected architectures, you can build apps where the underlying platform is irrelevant. 

Heck, the notion of a language like C is the same thing - write once, compile & run everywhere using the (commoditized) compiler! Okay, so it's never been that simple, despite continuous attempts. But if you break things out at the service level then you've turned the service itself into - guess what - a commodity! Now vendors are forced into iterating at a much more frequent pace, and transparency and adaptability are the key values.

The "disruption" is that companies like Google are realizing this. They are intentionally commoditizing everything in sight so they can climb up to the next level. Either Scoble or Tom Peters said something like "If you're just trying to compete you've already lost the game"  - and if they didn't, well I just did.



  1. Joshua Bell wrote:November 4, 2005 at 4:47 AM

    I'm reasonably confident that Microsoft will continue to be successful over at least that timeframe. But the competition is going to get tougher and tougher, and I think everyone - Microsoft included - will have to view competitors ever more in a cooperative light; e.g. don't try to replace your competitors, just commoditize them.

  2. Stefan Constantinescu wrote:November 4, 2005 at 4:47 AM

    email me what you think!


Post a Comment