I can’t stand this indecision
married with a lack of vision
Everybody wants to rule the world
~Tears for Fears, Everybody Wants to Rule the World.
There has certainly been a lot of gamesmanship going on in the computer industry these past few weeks as the industry’s biggest players try to maneuver to gain the upper-hand in the ever-shifting landscape of our industry. If you have been paying attention, what seems like a list of random headlines is really about gaining world domination. We can only hope that the wrestling match continues unabated.
Let’s take a look at a few of these moves, some of which I’ve written about here:
- Microsoft engages in talks with Yahoo!, cancels the talks, restarts the talks.
- Google releases Google Friend Connect; Facebook blocks it from using its API.
- Microsoft offers to pay people to use its Live search tool
- Apple reportedly has launched a plan to take over our living room in the next five years.
- HP buys EDS.
All of these moves are designed in some way to keep these companies on top, which is hardly shocking, but it’s the flurry of recent activity that surprises me. It seems that we find ourselves in an interesting time and place in our industry. Microsoft was the top dog for many years, but then Google gained the advantage more recently. As companies get bigger, it becomes more difficult for them to react to larger changes in the landscape, and by the time they do, it is often a struggle to catch up. This is a lesson the Microsoft has been learning lately.
But even while Google can revel in its recent success, there is always an upstart trying to take you down (witness the surprising Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East if you doubt this). Social networking seems to threaten the domination of both Google and Microsoft much like the Rays have come on to shake up Boston and New York. Young guns like Facebook, and to a lesser extent Twitter, have the potential to unseat the big players or at least shake them up a bit.
I don’t profess to know where any of this is going, but it sure is fun to watch. It's highly probably that while these companies are the big names now, somewhere out there, some brilliant young college kids are sitting in their dorms on some unknown campus coming up with the next big thing even as we speak. Microsoft, Google, Apple, HP, Facebook: You better watch your back because somewhere out on the horizon, someone’s coming after you. In the mean time, the clash of the titans continues.