Thursday, November 02, 2006
The two elephants of personal computing these days are Microsoft and Google. Microsoft rose to dominance by capturing the desktop. Google is rising to dominance by capturing the web. Both strategies revolve around who can capture your data. Elephants require massive amounts of food to survive, so it's no surprise that Microsoft and Google are eyeing each other's data. Microsoft has started a 'Live' initiative to engage Google on the web. Google has tinkered with productivity apps that might just work offline, to join Microsoft on the desktop. If either Microsoft or Google is successful at grabbing the other's data, the most useful byproduct of their efforts will be new ways to easily move data between the desktop and web. The result of this battle will further blur the lines between purely desktop and exclusively web applications. But as often happens when elephants trample the landscape, they create new opportunities for smaller, more nimble animals to grow and prosper. As Microsoft and Google narrow their focuses on each other, they will either fail to notice the landscape is changing underfoot, or will be unable to adapt quickly enough. It's not just naive optimism; there's plenty of historical precedent. Just as Ford couldn't build all the world's cars, AT&T all the world's telephones and IBM all the world's computers - neither Microsoft nor Google will be able to write all the world's software. In fact, the very rise of Google demonstrated this to Microsoft. As a result, the consumer and business software markets are poised to open up as never before.
. . .Who will the winners be? To borrow a catchphrase, "Just follow the data." The key for success will be how easily data can be identified, distributed and synchronized. Soon enough it will be immaterial where your event or task originated. Instead, what will matter is that your data being everywhere and in sync.
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