Its a bit like a heavyweight boxing match. Microsoft connects with a left hook to Google by launching its Bing search enginea direct threat to the Googles gold mineand the Big G responds with an upper-cut by telling the world it plans to launch into the operating system space, Microsofts crown jewels. This is a real showdown at the OK Corral with these technology goliaths making no bones about stomping into each others hallowed turf. Whether either will achieve a knock out victory is less clear. The likely umpire will be the marketconsumers and enterprises who can expect to emerge from this economic black hole with a much more frugal approach to spending.
From the enterprise and consumer perspective, such healthy competition can only be a good thing. History, and most economists, will tell you its never really been satisfactory for any one specific proprietary product, system or service to dominate. The let the market decide philosophy is that when customers have a choice, quality goes up and prices usually come down.
Having recently struggled through the latest Transformers movie with my 16-year-old daughter, I cant help but think of Google and Microsoft being the Autobots and Decepticons, but dont ask me who are the good guys and who wear the black hats in this duo. Thats a decision you need to make based on your experience and far be it for me to declare any such characterisation. I never thought they could make a movie where gigantic piles of junkyard trash perpetually smash into each other, with a sound track that caused my stomach to rumble. Obviously Im not their target demographic and much prefer the suspension of belief to be at least mildly plausible. My daughter loved the movie but I lost interest after about five minutes. I mean how can machines give birth? How can you empathise with 10-storey-high stacks of manic machinery?
A handful of vendors
I recall one CIO telling me last year, before the actual economic downturn started to bite, that he could see a future where there was only a handful of major vendors left, because the bigger fish would gobble up all the smaller ones until only the toughest sharks survived. This was when there was the last rush of mergers and acquisitions. It still remains to be seen whether the worlds current phase of financial instability will generate another wave of M & A activity, but it wouldnt be a real surprise if it did.
The other big league battle is in the enterprise communications space where Apples iPhone is fighting to challenge Research in Motions Blackberry as the weapon of choice for business people.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.