Crossing the Chasm

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-06-07 Print this article Print

Isnt the enterprise versus consumer and personal versus professional a distinction thats largely blurred by mobile devices? Why?
Because right now Im getting an e-mail from my wife, but in a few minutes Im going to get an IM from my editor.
You are, but let me take the reverse … my wife gets e-mails from me and she sends e-mails to me, but my wife is strictly a consumer. And she would use, as a consumer, quite a lot of the architecture I showed today. A travel company intercepted me as I was walking downstairs who wants to do travel stuff using this architecture. My wife would be happy to use that because she plans the trips, and she would be very happy to do that on a mobile device without having to be at a PC and learn about a cancellation or what have you. But the thing that youre talking about that goes with this, the sort of smart learning from users, the inference, the thing that made Amazon recommendations interesting … you know, were going to go slow on that. It doesnt mean that it cant be done. It could be big business. But there are a lot of big businesses we could do. And those companies that are not as rich as Microsoft and try to take on every big business end up not doing any of them well. And so twice in my life at BEA Ive been asked should we go and take on really new businesses, and twice I said we should not because we havent finished what we are doing yet. We have our hands full in the place were in. What benefit do you get from open-sourcing the Alchemy technology? We get a whole bunch of benefits. The same reason that a lot of partners that we have who are hardware vendors get benefits. None of us makes money from client-side software. We all make money from server-side software or hardware. Well, if you dont make money on client-side software and we dont have a model for it. ... Our salespeople go out and sell direct and sell things that people spend $1 million a year for. That is not a client-side sell. Given that we dont make money, were much, much more interested in the razor/razor blade thing and having ubiquity. If you want ubiquity, make it easy, make everyone do it, dont try to control it. From our point of view we want to open-source it so people can plug into this back-end server architecture in as many ways as they see fit, including enabling Mozilla to extend the browser. Theyve got the ability to extend the browser; other people can write rich clients that plug straight in. Other people can write custom apps that plug straight in. And then for all of that customers are much happier when theres an open-source consortium or standard and they can see it and they can debug it. Were not even proposing to rewrite the browser. We use the browser. Next page: Revenge of Hailstorm.

Steve Gillmor is editor of's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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