Monday, January 17, 2005

Vendor Wars

PC v Mac, Open Source v Microsoft, .NET v J2EE, you have to wonder what we go on about occasionally. Is anyone outside the IT industry and Geekdom really interested? No, they just view us as an oddity. Doc Searls calls it Vendor Sports when he sees this played out in the media.

Ordinary folks simply ignore it, just like I don't bother with the sports pages in the paper. They dismiss it as much to do about nothing. But is it? Barracking for one side or another surely is part of our make-up? I'm not qualified to expose the deep psychological underpinnings for this, but it is clearly built into us.

There is an interesting difference in the IT industry between the Apple and Microsoft vendor sports. Apple has a very articulate and vocal following which is out of proportion with the 2% market share which the Macintosh achieves. Microsoft users are on the whole less vocal (perhaps more pragmatic as they don't feel they have anything to prove).

Interestingly, Apple and Microsoft themselves have diametrically opposed views when it comes to allowing their employees to discuss issues related to their companies. Apple's litigious attitude to staff (or even outsiders) who dare speculate on its future products or direction is well known. On the other hand, Microsoft employees are actively encouraged to discuss work related issues on their weblogs. Would Apple tolerate Scoble's rants? Or others daring to criticise its products?

It seems clear that Microsoft is using its employee weblogs to put a more human face on the company. And doing a good job too. It doesn't look stage-managed like some corporate weblogs (no matter how well done). They found a natural way to improve their communications with the key influencers in their market place. How long will it be before we see other industries be smart enough to realise that having a human face adds to their bottom line (dare I mention James Hardie?).


Post a Comment

<< Home