Ted Leung on the air
Ted Leung on the air: Open Source, Java, Python, and ...
Sat, 08 May 2004
Will IT matter more after it's commoditized?
Techdirt cites Hal Varian (author of Information Rules)'s reply to Nicholas Carr's article and book questioning the relevance of IT. Here are some quotes that struck me:
So Mr. Carr's main thesis is right. It is not information technology itself that matters, but how you use it.
Standardization and commoditization of a technology don't always mean that innovation stops. Once products become commodities, they can serve as components for further innovation.
In the 19th century the real innovations came after the basic building blocks were commoditized.

Perhaps information technology is like those standardized parts. Desktop PC's, Web servers, databases and scripting languages have become components in larger, more complex systems. As these components have become more standardized, the opportunities to create innovations have multiplied.

It's hard to disagree that open source software is forcing the commoditization of entire classes of software. The question now becomes, will that commoditization result in innovation? The question is valid for open source software itself, since many large open source systems, Linux, GNOME, etc, are themselves composed of commoditized components.
[23:37] | [computers/open_source] | # | TB | F | G | 7 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

Oh yeah, the move to a commodity market is going to hurt MS because they are going to have to cut margins. But they won't have to cut the margins as much as anyone else with a margin to cut. (This is where Open Source is better off.) And they have a lot of room for cutting if they have to.

The real point is that they are going to continue selling Office and their OS; always the two biggest moneymakers. And they are able to do this because those represent the cornerstones of IT in the future. Between existing product lock-in and the ease of componetization in those areas, new IT apps built on Office components will be everywhere. And because of the network effect of all your partners and competitors using this, your company is going to have to go along.

Somehow I think MS realizes the glory days of high margins are over. But I also think they have a strategy for moving forward. Remember, this is a company that acted like they were scrabbling for their lives when they had a 90% market share. They are always working hard to keep it going, using every tool at hand (even when it gets them in trouble). Right now they may be one of the few companies that is planning more than five years into the future.

Meanwhile, in that future, the real money isn't going to be in selling commoditized software. It is going to be in consulting and administration services. And that is an area where MS has always sucked. People just don't trust them enough to turn over the keys. So, in that case, their reputation works against them.

But it helps people like me...
Posted by
Jack William Bell at Sun May 9 17:29:21 2004

Here's a related piece:


Which talks about how high margins can actually propagate from  commodities to integration and back again.  In short, just because something becomes a commodity, doesn't mean that eventually you can again reap the benefits of mastering that technology.

Now JWB comments "Open Source software (or anyone else) is not situated as well to work towards componetization/commoditization of IT as Microsoft" is completely ludicrous.  Java systems are already componentized by default and if you want to find more advanced forms of componentization you'll find it in the java world (JMX, Eclipse plugins, Dependecy injection etc.)

Posted by Carlos E. Perez at Mon May 10 04:07:20 2004

"Once products become commodities, they can serve as components for further innovation."

I agree with this point; you only have to look around to see the effects of building-block software, from the Linux command line with its "
cat txtfile | grep string | wc
" command chaining to using javascript bookmarklets to manipulate the DOM of an arbitrary webpage.

I disagree that Microsoft is in a better position to work from componentised software though. .Net doesn't really componentise anything useful - it's just another big library. Jabber is working to componentise the whole instant-messaging arena, for instance. As Jabber matures, you get the ability to easily link your application into a fairly simple instant messaging environment the likes of which you just don't get with MSN Messenger plugged into Exchange.

Why hasn't computer telephone taken off yet? MS has dialer.exe, TAPI, COM, scheduled tasks... Have you tried to get something to dial your modem and play a sound file? Does your modem support Unimodem V? It just doesn't click together nicely.

Maybe oneday it will be enough of a single block that it can be part of other applications - remote  desktop with a voice chat channel, for instance. Or maybe not - after all, why would Microsoft change it?
Open Source software needs a couple of dedicated people to make a change, Microsoft needs... well, where would you start getting Microsoft to add command line options or COM control to the phone dialer mini-app?
Posted by
sfb at Tue May 11 08:06:28 2004

You can subscribe to an RSS feed of the comments for this blog: RSS Feed for comments

Add a comment here:

You can use some HTML tags in the comment text:
To insert a URI, just type it -- no need to write an anchor tag.
Allowable html tags are: <a href>, <em>, <i>, <b>, <blockquote>, <br/>, <p>, <code>, <pre>, <cite>, <sub> and <sup>.

You can also use some Wiki style:
URI => [uri title]
<em> => _emphasized text_
<b> => *bold text*
Ordered list => consecutive lines starting spaces and an asterisk





Remember my info?

twl JPG


Ted Leung FOAF Explorer

I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, not those of my employer.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Now available!
Professional XML Development with Apache Tools : Xerces, Xalan, FOP, Cocoon, Axis, Xindice
Technorati Profile
PGP Key Fingerprint
My del.icio.us Bookmarks
My Flickr Photos

RSS 2.0 xml GIF
Comments (RSS 2.0) xml GIF
Atom 0.3 feed
Feedburner'ed RSS feed

< May 2004 >
2 3 4 5 6 7 8


Macintosh Tips and Tricks

Blogs nearby
geourl PNG

/ (1567)
  books/ (33)
  computers/ (62)
    hardware/ (15)
    internet/ (58)
      mail/ (11)
      microcontent/ (58)
      weblogs/ (174)
        pyblosxom/ (36)
      www/ (25)
    open_source/ (145)
      asf/ (53)
      osaf/ (32)
        chandler/ (35)
        cosmo/ (1)
    operating_systems/ (16)
      linux/ (9)
        debian/ (15)
        ubuntu/ (2)
      macosx/ (101)
        tips/ (25)
      windows_xp/ (4)
    programming/ (156)
      clr/ (1)
      dotnet/ (13)
      java/ (71)
        eclipse/ (22)
      lisp/ (34)
      python/ (86)
      smalltalk/ (4)
      xml/ (18)
    research/ (1)
    security/ (4)
    wireless/ (1)
  culture/ (10)
    film/ (8)
    music/ (6)
  education/ (13)
  family/ (17)
  gadgets/ (24)
  misc/ (47)
  people/ (18)
  photography/ (25)
    pictures/ (12)
  places/ (3)
    us/ (0)
      wa/ (2)
        bainbridge_island/ (17)
        seattle/ (13)
  skating/ (6)
  society/ (20)

[Valid RSS]

del.icio.us linkblog



Listed on BlogShares

Locations of visitors to this page
Where are visitors to this page?

pyblosxom GIF