Fellow citizens of the tech world, you’re watching a good Samaritan die. Unfortunately this is not the first time, it won’t be the last. We have seen this before, sadly we will see it again.
The IT industry, is a few sharks – Oracle, Apple, Google, and yes, Microsoft, and numerous small fishes around them.
10 years ago, you saw some innovating smart engineers create instant-messaging programs. There was rapid innovation and growth in that field even though internet itself was quite nascent. Remember ICQ? Well, then came around the sharks! They offered you free versions of IM programs that in the short run were actually superior. Yahoo messenger, MSN, AIM and then later on google. Innovation in IM was pretty much stand still until a new contender like skype decided to marry IM with telephony. This prompted google to do the same. Of course, Skype was then purchased by Microsoft. The situation still stands, lets take the example of Microsoft, it offers,
- MSN messenger – good at chat, but sucks at desktop sharing, video, and telephony.
- Skype – good at video conferencing, telephony, but sucks as an IM and desktop sharing.
- Lync – Good for desktop sharing, and IMs, sucks for online conferencing unless you integrate it with telephony.
Yes, just my personal views, but many will agree with me.
What baffles me is, why is the company that owns the three, is unable to put these three together and create ONE GOOD and PERFECT IM program? Answer – Well because they don’t need to. There would have been no IE7 if there was no firefox. And there will be no improved IM because until google gradually challenges Microsoft to it.
We are unfortunately seeing the same happen in cloud storage now. Some nascent companies came up with a pretty neat idea – synching your folders and adding cloud storage. DropBox, box.net, foldershare etc. But then, Microsoft bought Foldershare. It was then converted to live sync made not as potent. Then turned into live mesh, and made it even less potent – hell they don’t even give you progress bars showing how files are being synced. Well, now they’ve decided to kill it and stuff cloud down your throat the wrong way. The new cool thing is SkyDrive, where you too can pay for what was free and better with foldershare. And there is google drive – same sh!t different smell. This “new and improved” sky drive actually offers you less! You loose P2P sync, and you loose remote connections – how is that progress and “new and improved”? It is not!
Unfortunately, these big sharks are going to eventually eat the smaller fish like dropbox.
I can’t imagine this as anything but a cartel that stiffles innovation. DropBox will find it increasingly hard to compete with “free” or sold for a loss just to kill the competition.
Who suffers in the end is the end consumer – the exact opposite of what capitalism and equal opportunity for everyone was supposed to guarantee. These large companies have figured a way around the system, and we will not see the innovations in our lifetime if only the system wasn’t doctored. It appears that the only way for a little fish to become a shark is to grow quickly and fiercely before anyone has a chance to gobble you up!
Too big to fail? Too big to bail out? Well add “Too big to be fair” to the list.