It's fascinating to observe how technology companies have responded to the recession. A string of earnings reports and new corporate strategies announced this month offered us a gauge not only of management quality but also of corporate vision and charact
Its fascinating to observe how technology companies have responded to the recession. A string of earnings reports and new corporate strategies announced this month offered us a gauge not only of management quality but also of corporate vision and character.
For example, Microsoft, at long last, showed signs of maturity. But Sun took yet another step toward total isolation from the rest of the industry, even as IBM was demonstrating the wisdom of diversity and agnosticism in processors and platforms. AMD and Intel demonstrated that two companies can engage in cutthroat competition through the worst of times and apparently not damage their long-term health. Compaq improved its revenues and reputation even as its betrothed, Hewlett-Packard, went to war with its own stockholders while its products and strategies continued to bewilder customers and partners alike. And Apple wisely moved further into the consumer market, where innovative design and unimpeachable quality are bigger selling points than interoperability.
The biggest news was the announcement by Bill Gates that Microsoft would henceforth make security a higher priority than new features. It was hard to tell whether the sound coming from customers was a big sigh of relief or a resounding "Duh!" But how firm is the commitment? Microsoft also announced another 18 percent jump in revenues. When shoddy products produce such enviable growth, wheres the incentive for discipline?
And then theres Sun, a living lesson in how to turn a heavyweight into a has-been. This is a company that has expended vital competitive energy for years railing against Microsoft, only to discover belatedly that its true rival is IBM. It could learn a thing or two from IBM, which learned hard lessons from the beatings it took in the PC market from Compaq and Microsoft: Never put all your eggs in one processor, operating system, product or division.
Sun, however, isolated itself and angered buyers by announcing it will cease developing a version of its Solaris operating system for Intel-based systems. Combined with a Linux strategy so grudging its laughable, this makes Sun the industrys most xenophobic and dogmatic player by far. SPARC/Solaris is the only platform that matters? I dont think so.
Who do you think gets it and who doesnt? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rob joined Interactive Week from The New York Times, where he was the paper's technology news editor. Rob also was the founding editor of CyberTimes, The New York Times' technology news site on the Web. Under his guidance, the section grew from a one-man operation to an award-winning, full-time venture.
His earlier New York Times assignments were as national weekend editor, national backfield editor and national desk copy editor. Before joining The New York Times in 1992, Rob held key editorial positions at the Dallas Times Herald and The Madison (Wisc.) Capital Times.
A highly regarded technology journalist, he recently was appointed to the University of Wisconsin School of Journalism's board of visitors. Rob lectures yearly on new media at Columbia University's School of Journalism, and has made presentations at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab and Princeton University's New Technologies Symposium.
In addition to overseeing all of Interactive Week's print and online coverage of interactive business and technology, his responsibilities include development of new sections and design elements to ensure that Interactive Week's coverage and presentation are at the forefront of a fast-paced and fast-changing industry.