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Google's Love For Small Businesses 318

Posted by Zonk
from the no-one-is-small-on-the-internet dept.
bariswheel writes "The Fearless Frog is at it again: In his latest post, Cringely aims to slap some sense into Microsoft, Apple, and IBM altogether. From the article: 'What counts is that for Microsoft the platform is the PC while for Google the platform is the Internet and nobody can hope to control the Internet -- not Microsoft OR Google. Google is making a ton of money from people [small/medium sized businesses] who never were even in business before. This is not only a fundamental change in how advertising is done; it is a fundamental change in how BUSINESS is done.'"
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Google's Love For Small Businesses

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  • old ways... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joe 155 (937621) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @02:25PM (#15330280) Journal
    ...If Microsoft's business theory is antiquated, then Apple's- - which is for the most part derived from Microsoft's -- ought to be antiquated, too.

    So what's antiquated about making a product and selling it? Sure it's been done for a 1000s of years but that doesn't mean it's outdated... people will be doing exactly the same in the next 1000 years
    • Do you want to buy Microsoft Office 1000?
    • Re:old ways... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cubicledrone (681598)
      So what's antiquated about making a product and selling it?

      Given so many companies seem to be incapable of doing it, a great deal, apparently.

    • Ms uses their monopoly in OS's to allow them to lose lots of money in consoles, apple uses their monopoly(AFAIK it technically is one) in mp3 players to keep their PC business safe.

      Both also like bundling, ms bundles various stuff they want to push in with their OS, apple bundles together hardware, an OS and a platform for 3rd party programs(though you can't blame them for not encouraging a wine type API for other platforms, and they probably don't even resist it as much as ms).
      • Ms uses their monopoly in OS's to allow them to lose lots of money in consoles, apple uses their monopoly(AFAIK it technically is one) in mp3 players to keep their PC business safe.

        I see many distros of linux being sold in many computer stores (and pre-installed on machines). Just because Microsoft is the most popular at this time, doesn't make them a monopoly. Nothing is stopping you from creating an OS and selling it.

        The same thing with apple. There are 100s of companies out there selling mp3 players (
        • by undeaf (974710) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @03:38PM (#15330566)
          You do not have the whole market to be a monopoly, standard oil for example had 64% marketshare when it was broken up for something monopoly related. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly#Monopolistic _competition [wikipedia.org] )

          And there are things stopping others from selling products in markets which ms has a monopoly in, ms abusing it's monopoly, which they have been convicted of.
          • Although no one, in theory, controls the Internet, a dominant search portal like Google could control the Internet [com.com] for all practical commercial purposes.

            Suppose that Google had 95% of the search market. Then, if Google either denies advertising space to a small company or lowers its page ranking (so that the company appears at the bottom of a list of 666 other businesses selling the same product), then the company could be hurt irrevocably. There is no viable way for the company to use an alternative

        • the problem with monopolies is that they make it much more convenient to use their products and a hell of a lot less convenient to use ther competitors products. The playing field is not leveled. This is why there are monopoly laws. Companies like MS and Apple have a lot of weight they push around. Sure you shouldn't punish them, but what about holding them accountable for mistakes they've made that we have to pay for ? What about IE being artifically and nonsenseically 'bundled' with MS just for legal reas
        • by packetbasher (136771) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @04:33PM (#15330730)
          I see many distros of linux being sold in many computer stores (and pre-installed on machines). Just because Microsoft is the most popular at this time, doesn't make them a monopoly. Nothing is stopping you from creating an OS and selling it.


          I believe that both the US Government and the EU would disagree with you about Microsoft not being a monopoly.
    • Re:old ways... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ceoyoyo (59147) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @02:50PM (#15330398)
      Look around. Making a product is SO 1950. Sure, it's a necessary evil, but that's why we get all those countries in the far east to do it for us. Now SELLING a product, THAT's where the action is!

      I personally think we'd all be better off if everybody would do a little less selling and a little more making. Okay, a lot less and a lot more.
      • Re:old ways... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TeknoHog (164938)
        Look around. Making a product is SO 1950. Sure, it's a necessary evil, but that's why we get all those countries in the far east to do it for us. Now SELLING a product, THAT's where the action is!

        I thought the world economy has been more about services than products for decades now. Software businesses are waking up to this fact, after some time of distortion (mostly due to Microsoft) in which they wanted to sell copies of bits as products. I don't really mind this, as I can save tons of money by servin

        • Re:old ways... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ceoyoyo (59147) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @03:33PM (#15330547)
          That's why I said so 1950.

          I'm fine with services too -- some people need them. I don't, usually. You can even think of them as a product. The problem is, instead of trying to build the best widget or offer the best service, almost everybody seems to be intent on making something that's just good enough and then differentiate themselves through marketing.

          So I end up paying not only for a mediocre product but for the marketing as well. Marketing has a negative value to me (it uses my time and annoys me) so it actually detracts from the product, yet in many cases I have no alternatives to paying positive cash for it.
          • by morcego (260031) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @05:41PM (#15330973)
            You are making a very mistaked assumption. What you are calling "marketing" is actually "advertising". And advertising is only a tiny fraction of marketing.

            Without marketing, you would have no product (or service). At all.

            And yes, the kind of advertisement we have these days also annoys me. And yes, I too think they spend too much money on it.
      • Apple already DOES have their hardware built in far off lands. Certainly not in the US.
        • Re:old ways... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ceoyoyo (59147) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @03:38PM (#15330563)
          Almost everybody who actually has a product to sell (that includes service) makes it in a far off land.

          Better watch out... one of these days those far off lands are going to realize that they hold all the cards.
          • Re:old ways... (Score:2, Insightful)

            by KDR_11k (778916)
            Or their costs of living go up until outsourcing to them is no longer viable (or at least not more effective than production in today's high-cost countries) at which point jobs will wander away from them to cheaper countries.
      • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @03:35PM (#15330554) Journal
        Now SELLING a product, THAT's where the action is!
        Advanced as you think you are I can see you're still stuck in the old ways of the 20th century. The action is in SELLING, not seling a product. Products costs millions to develop and cheap as it is to manufacture them overseas it still costs money. No, SELLING WITHOUT A PRODUCT is where the in crowd knows the action is.
      • Re:old ways... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @05:02PM (#15330822) Homepage Journal
        Actually, the new thing is to "productize" something that was always free previously.

        In the old days, they sold you a door bell. If the door bell were invented now, they would sell it cheap or give it away free, and then charge you 25 cents per jingle for your "Visitor Alert Service." (Or if you're a high-volume guest-receiver, you can opt for our "Unlimited Rings Plan" for just $14.99 per month flat fee!)

    • Apple sells hardware and services. MS sells software.

      I do not recognize software as a product, not without coersive laws and terms of agreement making it so. At best, software is a service. At best.
    • Re:old ways... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dubl-u (51156) * <2523987012.pota@to> on Sunday May 14, 2006 @07:18PM (#15331369)
      So what's antiquated about making a product and selling it?

      Did you even read the article? Neither Microsoft nor Apple are merely in the business of making products and selling them. They make platforms that they dominate. Every other MP3 player company was just making products; Apple is up to something different.
  • For the life of me, I still do not get America's obsession with small business. Sure, smaller businesses are less powerful, but they're also problematic from an economic standpoint; most small business either don't hire very many employees, or do not pay for their health insurance, or even both.

    I understand they're "living the american dream" and all that, but how much is that worth us as a society? It seems to me that people have just automatically assumed that larger businesses are bad (by associating the
    • by humankind (704050) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @02:33PM (#15330318) Journal
      Walk into a small business and you find employees that actually know things; employees that usually are more integrated with the local community; employees that are happier.

      Walk into any big corporation and you find a bunch of uptight, miserable people who hate their jobs; don't care whether the customer is happy, and generally feel powerless to effect positive change on any grand scale within their operation.

      There are obviously exceptions. Companies like Whole Foods treat their employees right, but these corporations are very atypical. Walk into a Wal-Mart and see if any employee there really gives a crap whether you find what you're looking for.

      The bigger they are, the harder they fall. It's also a fallacy that smaller companies don't employee more people. There are millions and millions of Americans working for small companies or self-employed. They are an intregal part of the workforce in the country.
      • by flobberchops (971724) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @02:42PM (#15330357)
        Walk into Microsoft and see employees who just dont care anymore and have no motivation or inspiration. Walk into Google and see employees (ex-Microsoft most likely) who are happier in their jobs.
      • well there is a lot of reasons that this isnt true, and there are a lot of examples of small businesses who are just as bad as large corporations.

        What it boils down to is management, not the size of the business.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 14, 2006 @03:30PM (#15330542)
          What it boils down to is management, not the size of the business.

          Except that you can't be a crappy manager at a small business, and stay in business long.

          Big businesses depend on economies of scale that don't exist in small businesses... there isn't ROOM for an incompetent boob in a three-man operation.

          You get to three-hundred, and, "Well, Johnson may be a bullying misogynist, but at least he shows up for work."

          You get to three-thousand, and Johnson's bullying misogyny is percieved as "leadership".
      • by CokeBear (16811) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @03:21PM (#15330519) Journal
        The problem is that small businesses that are really really good at what they do start to grow, and a handful of them turn into those giant unfeeling corporations that we loathe. From personal experience, I think the slide into corporate oblivion starts when the first MBAs join the company. An MBA is literally training on how not to be a human being. Business schools rob students of their humanity, and teach them only to worship short term profits. There is nothing wrong with focusing on making a profit, thats the engine that drives our economy, but these MBA grads that are being manufactured don't appear to be able to think long term, either at the long term sustainability of a company, or the long term sustainability of humanity.
        • by JKConsult (598845) on Monday May 15, 2006 @12:51AM (#15332563)
          An MBA is literally training on how not to be a human being. Business schools rob students of their humanity, and teach them only to worship short term profits

          I don't know why I'm surprised that this got modded up, but you really need to get out some. Are some people with MBAs worthless know-nothings? Of course. As are some people with every certification or degree known to man. It doesn't impugn the value of that education.

          More and more, Slashdot seems to be sliding towards the groupthink that "People who are interested in business are bad." You know what? You can be a dynamite engineer with a fantastic development group and a kick-ass product. But if your salesforce can't sell, your management can't keep the company focused, your CFO can't get the financials straight (including making good decisions regarding cash flows and investments to make sure that you, the kick-ass engineer, gets paid every month), your product doesn't mean shit. Because it will never see the market.

      • by Generalisimo Zang (805701) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @03:24PM (#15330531)
        I work in a small bussiness.

        People in town know me, and I know them. The people who run the other small bussinesses in town all know me, and I know them.

        With a relatively small number of customers, I have to treat them right, or we'd be out of bussiness really really fast.

        When I do treat the customer right, I know that they'll tell their friends... and I also know that the other small bussinesses in town will stear people my way, just like I send bussiness their way.

        Occasionally, I'll get customers who are complete assholes. Over a certain level of assholeness, and they're not worth my time or trouble... and I make certain to send them off to some large corporate store so I can concentrate on the customers who actually respond to being treated well.

        The customers I want, I treat like gold.

        Now, take your typical corporate environment. The workers could give a fark about their customers, because almost none of the workers in a corporate environment have a direct stake in how well the bussiness does overall (beyond making sure that it doesn't go belly up).

        Your typical corporate employee treats the customers at a certain minimum level of service, because he'll be fired if he doesn't.

        So, EVERYONE who goes to do bussiness with the corporate places gets treated in a "lowest common denominator" sort of way. They're not quite treated as badly as garbage that blew in off the street, but they're never treated like the "good" customers that I treat like gold.

        Everyone in the corporate places, employees and customers alike, gets treated as just another cog in a big machine.

        So, if you spend your money at big corporate places, you're in effect voting with your dollars to be treated just slightly better than assholes get treated. But, if you spend your money at small bussinesses and act like a decent human being, then you'll be treated much better.

        Every dollar you spend at Wallmart or Blockbuster, is a dollar that you're "voting" with, to be treated as a disposable nothing who gets the bare minimum of courtesy... and nothing else.

        I guess if you're a complete asshole, then you'd come out ahead in that bargain ;) Otherwise, you can only lose by giving your patronage to the big corporate places.
        • So much bollocks. My last job was at a small, family-owned company (50 employees). Most of the staff were treated like cattle by overbearing board members who paid peanuts whilst pocketing artifically-inflated salaries themselves. To a man they drove Mercs, BMWs, and Bentleys; to a man they had personalised number plates. They pissed off the local community (a small, pretty town in Hertfordshire) by buying out the lease from the only local library and using it as a training centre for contracted security st
          • You are most certainly right in that not all small companies are good, not all large companies are bad. Out of honest curiousity, why did a company of 50 employees need a Board of Directors? Why didn't disgruntled employees set up as a competitor? It seems that if the bossman was such a jerk it wouldn't be too tough to get 15 employees with the necessary skill to start up a new company in what sounds like a fertile market (30%annual growth)
      • by alienw (585907) <alienw...slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Sunday May 14, 2006 @04:02PM (#15330633)
        Not sure where the hell you are getting this from. Just so you know, large companies don't consist exclusively of retail stores. Most large companies treat their employees well and provide good benefits. Just ask anyone working at Microsoft, Google, IBM, or another large company. Of course, you rarely hear about the good employers in the media.

        Small business is just that -- small. Most small businesses are too small to pay a decent wage and provide decent benefits. They rarely hire full-time employees and don't always treat their employees well. Have you seen gas station employeees or Burger King employees that were happy with their jobs? Burger King or McDonald's is a perfect example of a small business. Most of those restaurants are owned and operated by a small, local franchisee. I doubt any of their employees are particularly happy.
        • Franchises are very poor examples. It is eseentially a corporation where the mid-level managers have to buy thier positions and can be scapegoated very easily.

          For a real exmaple, go check out an office park, or go to some banks' sckyscraper and check out all the offices. Most of the people working there are fairly satisfied with thier jobs.
        • Burger King or McDonald's is a perfect example of a small business.

          Huh? Are you serious?

          Those have to be the absolute worst examples of small businesses because, well, they're not small businesses. They are local outlets of huge corporations. Pay scales, work rules and benefits are not determined by the local franchise owner. They are dictated by the corporation.

          A perfect example of a small business would be a small construction contractor, a small, privately operated, tax accounting office or a family-run
    • by joe 155 (937621) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @02:34PM (#15330319) Journal
      small companies employ a lot of people, not in each company but when that is multiplied over a huge number then you end up with a pretty bug number. People being in work is good for the economy. Not to mention that small companies won't relocate outside of the country, and the give a lot back in tax... so they are pretty good really
      • by Otter (3800) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @02:54PM (#15330416) Journal
        OK, someone's got to go to look up the real number ... here ya go [house.gov]:
        Small businesses play an important part in the United States economy. There are about 22.4 million non-farm firms in the U.S, according to 2001 data. Small businesses represent more than 99 percent of all employers. They also employ 51 percent of private-sector workers, 51 percent of workers on public assistance, and 38 percent of workers in high-tech jobs.
        Not the 85% of all workers some guy was claiming, but much higher than I would have guessed.
        • Add in farmers and you're going to get a bigger number. There's no real reason for excluding farmers after all. They're small businesses. Probably not 85% though. Well, maybe here in Canada.
          • I think farmers are excluded from these statistics more for bureaucratic reasons (they fall under a different department's purview) than economic reasons. Anyway, I'd imagine that "private-sector workers" drives the percentage of small-firm workers up far more than "non-farm" pushes it down.
      • Depending on how you define "a lot of people" and "small companies", I'd wager you're talking out of your ass and haven't actually looked at any statistics. According to the US Census Bureau [census.gov], only about 10% of everybody that's employed is employed in firms with less than 10 employees. On the other hand, firms with over 500 employees (I'd consider those to be 'big business') employ about 50% of the workforce.

        Do you have anything backing up your argument other than "uhh, there's a lot of small businesses so,
        • Dude - you proved his point with your own numbers. If companies larger than 500 employees account for only 50% of employment, then obviously the other 50% are employed by companies smaller than 500 employees. So approximately 50% of the workforce is employed by small businesses.
    • by Flying pig (925874) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @02:49PM (#15330394)
      The obsession is with what elsewhere in the world would be called medium sized companies and startups. And there is a simple reason why it is a good thing. SMEs are the feedstock. Many fail, some succeed, but they have the speed of action to exploit new opportunities. Apple began as an SME. Google was until recently an SME. eBay was an SME. Now tell me any large scale enterprise that shows real organic growth? Most of them can only try to absorb other companies and save money to pay the huge acquisition fees. They employ a lot of people - and frequently wish they did not and try to get rid of them by outsourcing, They run strange tax avoidance schemes that cause their profits to be relocated far from where their employees and customers are based. They incur nonproductive costs (lawyers, borrowing, lobbying) that don't impact nearly so much on small companies.

      Show me a large company and I will show you an organisation with huge inbuilt inefficiencies and vast inertia. In the long term it is going to die or split up. That's part of the business cycle. To drive the business cycle, you need new dynamic startups and a regime in which, when they become medium sized, they can still grow. You need strength in depth, like the German Mittelstand. Some will be winners and turn into large companies. But if you only have large companies, in the long run there is nowhere but down. Small companies cannot monopolise their markets, so they have to do something well to survive.

      I am surprised myself, but I find myself agreeing with Cringely - over the long term. Until recently it has taken a very big enterprise to build cheap computers, phones, or volume software. The problem is that these things are now commoditised to such a degree that they do not command a premium. It's like the transition from a world in which iron was a scarce commodity and the man who could afford a steel sword could be a military leader, to a world in which iron was a cheap building material and the emphasis moved to poeple who could think of new things to do with it. That this transition is happening over a couple of decades rather than a couple of millenia is a sign of some sort of progress.

    • Most small companies cannot do the creative accounting the larger companies can do. Many of the large companies seem to not 'make' any taxable revenue... go figure. The little ones can't do it as easily as the multi nationals. Also, it does not take that many employees to do the health insurance thing. I know of several local 20 person engineering shops that have the same BCBS coverage I have in the 500 person, 120M/year shop I work at. (now large enough to call medium I guess, but started small). It a
    • by Poppler (822173) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @02:53PM (#15330413) Journal
      most small business ...do not pay for their [employees] health insurance

      That is only an issue because of the dismal state of healthcare in this country. That is a serious problem that needs to be addressed on its own. Most industrialized "first world" countries provide healthcare for their citizens; don't blame the small businessman for the failings of government.

      It seems to me that people have just automatically assumed that larger businesses are bad (by associating them with some bad actors among the super-big actors) and that smaller business are somehow intrinsically "good,"...

      It's not a matter of "good" or "bad". The problem with large businesses is that they have a disproportionate amount influence on our lives. They own congress and rig the laws and tax code to favor them. They coldly lay off workers without remorse. They are large institutions who are beholden to no one but their shareholders. They do these things, not because they are "evil", but because they can. Any business, small or large, will do what it can to make money, it's just that some of the things large businesses are capable of are pretty nasty.
      Small businesses are a part of the community, and have a human face. They're "one of us". Despite their relative inefficiancy, it is no surprise that people have a warmer opinion of them than their larger counterparts.
    • For the life of me, I still do not get America's obsession with small business. Sure, smaller businesses are less powerful, but they're also problematic from an economic standpoint; most small business either don't hire very many employees, or do not pay for their health insurance, or even both.

      you mean like former small businesses that do things like have 2 employees that build computers in a parents garage? (aapl) or a small business of a college kid building commodity pc's in his dorm room? (dell) or

    • Sure, smaller businesses are less powerful, but they're also problematic from an economic standpoint; most small business either don't hire very many employees, or do not pay for their health insurance Like Wal-Mart?
    • Well, first off, you have to consider that we have other objectives in mind than just employing a lot of people and giving them good health benefits... Those things are both important, especially health benefits since for some dumbass reason we still haven't adopted socialized health care, but as far as our national and personal objectives go those aren't in the center.

      One thing that small businesses can do that large ones cannot is innovate. Now, you may think to yourself that most of the new innovative te
  • by humankind (704050) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @02:29PM (#15330300) Journal
    This is a testamonial to the shortsightedness of America and specifically the business and political communities. This is happening all over the country. Most local governments give huge breaks to "big" companies to locate in their towns, while ignoring or hasseling the small businesses with too much buracracy. And they wonder why they don't generate as much tax revenue or big companies pull out, relocate, shut down or outsource out of the country? It may seem like some quick-fix or quick-cash but it's never worth it in the long and run.

    • This is not a phenomenon solely for local governments. All levels of government are just as bad. This is also not restricted to small businesses.

      For example, if you're in Pennsylvania and take Interstate 81 south you'll suddenly see a number of major corporate buildings in all fields - manufacturing, financial, consulting - across the Mason-Dixon before you even get a chance to cross the border. This is because various states also have different ways of handling corporations. As a Pennsylvanian, I ca
  • by zlogic (892404)
    For anyone who read the article, the author suggests that Microsoft should license Vista and Office for no more than $50.
    Visual Studio 2005 Express was originally thought to be priced $50 a copy, then Microsoft made it free (as in beer) for anyone who downloads it before November 2006. The express editions have pretty much anything that you get in the real thing, except Microsoft's analog for CVS and a few other enterprise things. Express is a great product for anyone who wants to have fun with coding or ev
    • For anyone who read the article, the author suggests that Microsoft should license Vista and Office for no more than $50.

      No, he suggests that Microsoft sell a new OS that's actually usable on existing computers and doesn't have the legacy bloat and security problems of Windows... for $50.

      Maybe they could bring back Windows CE?
    • Visual Studio 2005 Express was originally thought to be priced $50 a copy, then Microsoft made it free (as in beer) for anyone who downloads it before November 2006

      Visual Studio Express and all components will remain free. Visual Studio Express [microsoft.com]

      This is becoming a very large and very rich site for the hobbyist programmer, including many starter kits and tutorials.

    • by pjt33 (739471) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @05:22PM (#15330885)
      The express editions have pretty much anything that you get in the real thing, except Microsoft's analog for CVS and a few other enterprise things.
      Pardon me for going off-topic, but I disagree with your categorisation of source control as "enterprise". All sensible coders should use it.
  • Never mind that... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @02:43PM (#15330362) Journal
    This is not only a fundamental change in how advertising is done; it is a fundamental change in how BUSINESS is done.

    For the sake of argument, let's put aside the total absence of numbers in that paragraph... But, if one company is going to be credited with "making a ton of money from people who never were even in business before", surely it's E-Bay!

    • Ain't it the classified section of your local newspaper. You know that bit where anyone can put up an ad?

      Been around for how long? Ever since someone invented the newspaper and realised that a load of penny ads still pays for all the costs just as good as full page ads with the advantage you can stick those tiny classified ads anywhere you got a spare space.

      Nothing new here.

      • Actually there's been local and national press on how Craigslist is clobbering the beejeezus out of classified ads. Posting for free beats pennies - and newspapers have been getting hit where it hurts. Probably why ad inserts have been up.
  • Microsoft can build software for a handheld or tablet computer, a mobile phone or a TV set-top box and even though the wrapper is different, the feel is always very much the same -- that of a fat PC client. Microsoft can't allow a phone to be a phone because they can't dominate and control a plain old phone unless it is more Windows than phone. That's a problem.

    It surely is. That was obvious in 2000 when they came out with "Pocket PC", their most successful spin on the handheld, and "Stinger", their fialed attempt to get into the cellphone market.

    The Pocket PC meant the end of the Windows CE micro-notebooks and the Windows-CE-based tablets. They were pushing Windows NT as the new tablet... the problem is that while Windows CE felt like a spin on Windows 95, and the Pocket PC felt like a Palm on steroids, the Tablet PC was just an overpriced notebook.

    Luckily for Microsoft, Palm had no idea what their product was, and has been trying to turn Palm OS into Pocket PC... and failing, big time. If Palm was smart they'd be selling black-and-white 68000-based Palms for $30-$50 in every grocery store in the USA, and they'd still own the business... because Microsoft couldn't do that. But, no...

    But, anyway... Microsoft's platform is Windows. If you're not Windows... even if you look like Windows, Microsoft just wants to make you an annex to the Windows desktop. And if you don't even look like Windows, Microsoft doesn't want you to be a platform. That's why they completely redid the XBox, people were turning it into a platform.

    But what's Apple's "platform"? It's not the Mac, and it's not Mac OS, or Mac OS X, because their "handheld/..." is the iPod, and it's nothing like a Mac. It's not even tied in to the Mac. Apple's platform is, near as I can tell, "whatever they can make money selling". That's not something they can control like Microsoft can control Windows. Microsoft isn't Apple's proxy, but what is?
    • If Palm was smart they'd be selling black-and-white 68000-based Palms for $30-$50 in every grocery store in the USA, and they'd still own the business... because Microsoft couldn't do that. But, no...Two words: T-100.

      Sold like..a lead balloon. Was one of the major factors in Palm's implosion.
      • Two words: T-100.

        You mean "Palm m100"?

        No, I don't mean a $150 68000 device with 2M running palmOS 3.5 in 2000, when it was the replacement for the Palm IIIe and contemporary with the Visor and the original Clie.

        I mean they should have maintained the PalmOS 4 68000 based line and let the price drop and the capacity increase as the cost of memory and chips fell. They didn't have to enhance it and come out with a PalmOS 4.3, 4.4, 4.5, just keep making the black-and-whote DragonBall-EZ based Palms with 8M RAM a
    • Apple's "platform" is the Apple experience: products made for people who think like Apple thinks, do things the way Apple does. You know, architects and dilettantes.
    • "But what's Apple's "platform"? It's not the Mac, and it's not Mac OS, or Mac OS X, because their "handheld/..." is the iPod, and it's nothing like a Mac. It's not even tied in to the Mac. Apple's platform is, near as I can tell "whatever they can make money selling". That's not something they can control like Microsoft can control Windows. Microsoft isn't Apple's proxy, but what is?"

      Actually, if you know anything about Apple the iPod is exactly like the Mac. It's a one stop solution (From the OS to the H
      • Actually, if you know anything about Apple the iPod is exactly like the Mac.

        Did you read the article?

        It's a different OS (two different OSes) with a different user interface and different applications base. It's not a "platform" in the sense that Windows is a "Platform".

        Apple doesn't own "it's a one stop solution". They don't control "it's a one-stop solution". "It's a one stop solution" for Apple is like "the Internet" for Google.
  • Big verses Small (Score:5, Interesting)

    by humankind (704050) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @02:48PM (#15330393) Journal
    I work for a small company. I used to work for several big companies. I don't make as much money now as I used to, but I have ten times more freedom and ten times more happiness and ten times less stress. I do more work than I did at the big companies, but it seems less like "work." Even though, technically I don't make as much money as I did working at some larger companies, somehow it feels like I do have more money. Maybe this is because the quality of my life has improved to the point where I am not engaging in consumeristic, distractive or self-destructive behavior as much as in the past, and this leaves me more resources as well as more peace of mind?

    When I worked at big companies, there always was an illogical hierarchy that insured good ideas would get buried behind the ambitions of politically-motivated managers. People used internal memos to talk in lieu of face-to-face conversations. We had way too many meetings that didn't get a goddam thing done. And half the staff's specialization involved blaming others for things that went wrong. Normally accountability and responsibility go hand-in-hand, but not in big companies. And things constantly broke down and got lost in the cracks. When I was young, this was huge hit to my idealism and I had to make a decision: Did I want to live my life this way and end up being programmed to accept mediocrity as the status quo? Or did I want to find an environment where the people were truly appreciated and weren't constantly living in fear that some corporate boss would cut their job without even introducing himself?

    I would never go back.

  • word? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by scheming (862018) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @02:50PM (#15330399)
    you would really rather have a couple people own big companies and small businesses be non-existent? that would generate the smallest percentage of rich/wealthy people in the united states, leaving the rest of the people (more than 99.9%) in the middle/low class. i guess this would be fine if it didnt sound stupid.
    • So you mean nothing would change. Few small business owners get out of being classified as middle class, or make more money (that's usable by them) then someone in a job at a large company.
  • A need for both (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Original Replica (908688) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @03:01PM (#15330443) Journal
    I'm counting on Google and eBay to save America"
    While it is wonderful that ebay and Google are offering large scale exposure and nation wide distrabution to small businesses, let's not demonize all giant corporations. Some things are better done on a huge scale. Think Boeing and FedEx. While other things are best done on a small,even personal,scale. Like fine dining or health care. The real hope for America is finding the appropirate scale for different industries, instead of business success being defined as becoming a huge market-dominating multinational, success can become about a balanced harmonious place in the economy and community.
  • by segedunum (883035) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @03:05PM (#15330461)
    The way software and products are funded is definitely changing. The days of licensing software products on widespread scale (certainly with Microsoft) do look as if they are going to be pretty untenable over the next ten years. With licensing for Windows, licensing for Office, licensing for servers, licensing for other spin-off software like Sharepoint, licensing for Exchange and CALs etc. there are small businesses who will never in a million years be able to use this software in a full, useful and productive manner. Even if they were to, by the time they did the next fifteen versions would have been brought out, leaving theirs unsupported.

    Google funds its activities and development through advertising and spin-offs based on that from the services they provide, provided by their development. Small businesses and individuals have got several times the chance of using Google Calendar or Google Groupware than they have of using Exchange. That's what makes them a bit dangerous to Microsoft. Even then though, Microsoft still makes its money through licensing. There's no real way of getting around that.

    Ditto with open source software, and that's why it will not be brought to the masses by Red Hat or especially Novell. They charge license fees in all but name. If someone can find a way of taking open source software, and finds a business model that allows them to fund their development whilst giving it away for free, it's bye, bye Microsoft, Novell and a few other companies who make their livings from pure software licensing. Seriously. IBM are a little bit different in that they do more than just that, so they have a chance. There I disagree. But, if you're a pure software licensing company you better hope damn hard that you're providing an adequate service to your custoners and you're in a specific well defined market.
    • If someone can find a way of taking open source software, and finds a business model that allows them to fund their development whilst giving it away for free, it's bye, bye Microsoft, Novell and a few other companies who make their livings from pure software licensing.

      You mean like IBM and Apple do?
  • IBM???Apple??? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tooyoung (853621)
    Cringely aims to slap some sense into Microsoft, Apple, and IBM altogether
    Um, IBM makes its money through enterprise-level applications and services, with some hardward. Apple plays the hardware/music/software game. You may as well "slap some sense" into Boston Market, Sears, and Starbucks for not joining Google's model.
  • Please stop... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FooManChu (35221) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @03:35PM (#15330553)
    posting Cringely's articles. They're nothing but flamebait and don't deserve to make slashdot's front page.
  • by rifftide (679288) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @03:50PM (#15330593)
    Microsoft is clearly trying to reinvent itself, with the elevation of Ray Ozzie, rebranding of MSN as Windows Live/AdCenter, and the surprise announcement of a major investment in server infrastruture. It's trying to be a lot more like Google. As owner (and frequent abuser) of the Windows/Office monopolies, they realize they have both major advantages and disadvantages relative to Google: they can offer "integrated innovation", but many business partners and consumers no longer trust them. So the business model they're trying to get to won't be the same as Google's either. I can see moving towards a hybrid model where consumers and very small businesses can use their software over the web for free, supported by ads (i.e. the Google model), while larger companies could alternatively buy it as packaged software and install it behind their corporate firewall and administer it themselves, to protect the privacy of their data.

    Meanwhile they'll still be selling desktop software of course, but this area will start to decline in profitability. Windows and Office are their cash cows and the software-as-service stuff is their new direction which will eat cash for a number of years.

    As far as Cringely's suggestion that MS offers a lean and mean, high performance, secure version of Windows, fully compatible with XP applications and peripherals, that could be sold for $49 without major loss of revenue and internal disruption, well, would that it were that easy. That's Cringely's advantage of being a blogger.

  • Our savior Google? (Score:3, Informative)

    by SideshowBob (82333) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @04:00PM (#15330622)
    So America's savior is a company that is entirely dependent on advertising revenue? Does Cringely remember 1999? Has he read anything about Google's problems with spammers hacking the PageRank algorithms, and polluting Google's cache with useless auto-generated sites?

    No offense to Google - I'm a regular user - but I'm not pinning the entire nation's future to this one tech company. That's absurd hyperbole. Something that we know to expect from Cringely (and Dvorak, et al.)
  • by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Sunday May 14, 2006 @04:35PM (#15330737)
    ...for they are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

    [Yeah, it's an old one, but do I get bonus points for spelling 'ketchup' correctly?]
  • by dioscaido (541037) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @04:38PM (#15330751)
    Actually, MS is pushing pretty hard into the small business arena.

    They have retail management [microsoft.com] and point of sale software [microsoft.com] for small businesses. Plus many offerings for business accounting, like SBA [microsoft.com]. They actually have some pretty cool offerings in this area, compared to the competition anyway.
  • Making and selling products is so yesterday!
    Click here and sign up for our maillist and you will get Fr33 m0ny!!
  • by bmarklein (24314) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @05:17PM (#15330874)
    "Apple is just Microsoft with a sense of style" - Robert Cringely

  • by Aqua OS X (458522) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @06:26PM (#15331188)
    Thanks for putting this story under the Apple category... we almost missed our daily quota of Apple related stories.

    Note: we're also lacking the monthly story about AIDS finally being cured.

  • by BigGerman (541312) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @08:21PM (#15331565)
    It became virtually impossible to put a new product on the market without paying hefty advertisement fees thru AdWords. The Google competitors in this space simply do not work so not doing Google ads is not an option. If you dont pay Google for this form of "product placement" - you do not exist and you get zero traffic.
    This is monopoly Microsoft could only dream of.

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