Thinking about competition

In the late 90’s there was a lot of talk about Microsoft and their monopoly on the desktop.

They were absolutely feared at that time. And it wasn’t that long ago. Less than 10 years ago actually. During those days there were plenty of people that strongly felt Microsoft needed to be broken up into separate companies.

I never agreed with that idea. First, I’m not really comfortable with the government coming to the rescue on technology market matters. And it also felt that politicians that were making the boldest breakup MSFT speeches were being supported by MSFT’s competitors (sun, novell, etc) in their home market.

But the main reason I opposed a forced breakup of MSFT is that ultimately the innovation market takes over.

The competitve landscape in Microsoft’s world and media & technology broadly has changed in many more ways that anyone could have predicted. Certainly in the timeframe we have been talking about. Consider:

-Traditional media companies under attack (daily) by newcomers

-Traditional media companies reinventing themselves

-Walled gardens coming down everywhere

-Phone companies under attack by newcomers

-Google going after Microsoft’s desktop app market

-Microsoft going after Google’s search market

-Telco’s launching payTV services

-Cable companies launching telephone services

-Satellite operators going into the consumer electronics business

-Carriers opening up their networks

-Music market turned upside down again and again

That’s why I almost never ask startups I meet why Google or Microsoft won’t stomp them out of the universe.

Innovation will surely happen even faster over the next 10 years.

And that’s a beautiful thing.