By Randy M. Ataide, J.D.
For the past year or so I have been carefully watching the emerging battle between two very different visions of the internet and all of its ancillary products, services and tools. There is really a profound philosophical war going on, with Apple (and Microsoft as a lesser player) on one side, and Google on the other. The link above details the latest turn in this battle and that the lines couldn’t be sharper.
While maintaining an edgy, stylistic and thoroughly modern brand image, Apple is actually an incredibly closed company which appears to operate like the Kremlin at the height of the Cold War. Secrecy is the highest virtue and their approach to the market is that the consumer will accept, indeed love and embrace, our products when we say they are ready to go to market. And their ability to bring outstanding products to market with few flaws has only reinforced their attitude.
Google on the other hand is a leading advocate of open sources and the video link I have provided above gives us a clearer idea of where they are heading. And we know that recently Google took a stand against China and effectively withdrew from the largest market in the world.
Yahoo, without a clear vision and ability to adapt, has been effectively neutralized. Microsoft (can you believe it?) is now becoming a second tier software vendor in an application world for an IPhone.
We have all read and seen the books and oracles of the past few years tell us of the open world we are in—collaboration, sharing, peering, cloud computing, shareware, open source, etc.—but the past few “rounds” have certainly gone to the closed model of Apple. We need only look at the recent bestsellers like Wikinomics, Blink, Dealing with Darwin and many other books to see that “open” is the inevitable future. But “open” hasn’t delivered us a product like the IPhone or IPad, has it?
I have taught on the open new world extensively the past few years, and brought much of this thinking into not only my undergraduate and MBA lectures but also into my public speaking and consulting. Did I get it wrong? Is closed really better? What should the entrepreneur, manager and technician be thinking?
This has profound implications for all of us, not only as consumers and students but also as academics. As I mentioned, this is at its heart an profound philosophical battle as to how products, information and services are provided to the marketplace, and which tools and methods and techniques we offer to students.
We might be witnessing the single most important debate over technology development and application of the past several decades. Who will prevail is in my mind, a very open question.
The news story Prof Ataide refers to can be found here: http://money.cnn.com/video/technology/2010/05/19/f_tm_google_io_html5.fortune/
Professor Ataide is the Professor of Entrepreneurship in the School of Business at PLNU and is also the Executive Director of the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute (FBEI)