Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A dozen milestones in IT openness

InfoWorld has published an interesting retrospective — woulda, coulda, shoulda — of key passing points in the evolution of the IT industry.

Modestly labelled “Tech's 15 turning points,” nearly all the milestones relate to issues of IT openness and the implications both for the firm (that chose to be open) and the rest of the industry.

Below are the titles (and my commentary)

  1. Apple's NeXT move: to deliver its first new OS in nearly 20 years, Caesar recruits Brutus to migrate Apple to open systems
  2. Dawn of Free Software: RMS starts a communitarian movement that occasionally ships software
  3. Microsoft dodges a bullet: Microsoft is closed, but not so closed as to be broken up
  4. Handspring launches the smartphone era: by licensing an off-the-shelf PDA OS, they create a new product category (at least in the US)
  5. That '70s spam: costless open access invites abuse
  6. Rise of MS Office: tying one proprietary platform to another makes both valuable
  7. IBM's second coming: even the best proprietary platform strategy runs out of gas
  8. The ARPANet is for porn: in an open marketplace, man’s basest imperative will eventually be monetized
  9. The Web loses synch: formal standards take too long, and your competitors will copy your best de facto standards
  10. Linux staves off SCO: proprietary Unix company unable to put the genie back in the bottle.
  11. Intel dispels MHz myth: marketing triumphs over technology every time
  12. NetWare falls to Net: the dominant PC proprietary network is vanquished by the open internet
  13. IT made accountable: industry excess invites regulatory excess, which perpetually wastes piles of money
  14. Apple flips chip strategy: you can't fight global network effects
  15. Outsourcing goes global: open borders mean more competition and global job mobility
Interestingly, the intro mentions two even more important passages that are not in the article: Steve Jobs taking the 1979 tour of Xerox PARC, and IBM’s 1980 decision to outsource the CPU (and OS) for its new PC. But — being the subject of countless Cringely columns and even a movie — maybe those are so obvious as to be not worth mentioning.

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