Thursday I was fortune to hear Brent Williams of The Benchmark Company talk at EclipseCon about investing in open source. However, the former IDC/Gartner analyst most piqued my interest when he argued that signs are ripe for a 4th wave of platform wars.
Here is one of the slides summarizing his views.
1st-3rd Generation Proprietary Platforms (1965 -~1995)Brent was obviously trying to be provocative, but his point about platforms often being driven by vendor needs — not user needs — rang very true.
- Mainframe, mini, Windows PC
- Extreme architectural & vendor lock-in
- Lower complexity enabled fantasy of “one vendor could do it all.”
Galactic Architectures (a comical detour, 1987-1995)
- Everything to everyone, solving all problems
- IBM SAA, Digital AAS, Apple VITAL, ACE Consortium, Sun ONE, etc.
He sees the signs that web-based platforms (like Google) will be the next wave of platforms. Even if that’s not who will eventually win, it makes the topic worth studying. Meanwhile, his hopes for involvement of user organizations in standardization seem fanciful at best.
I’ve long wanted to meet Brent, a friend of my co-author Siobhán O’Mahony. He was even more entertaining in person, and he also offered some interesting ideas of how to estimate company performance that would be useful for my students in researching competitors.