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Business Landscapes Change. Giants Fade.

Quick thought for the day: business landscapes change.  Giants fall. Startups become giants.

The giant, the big power, that everybody fears, and by whom everybody wants to be acquired … it’s Google these days. It used to be Microsoft. Are you familiar with Lotus 1-2-3? There was a time when Lotus was the giant of software. And Visi on? Look it up: it was the world’s largest personal computer software company in 1983.

Giants are hated and feared.

In January 1985 Apple released the now-famous 1984 commercial that pitted the high-tech newbie against the industry giant (here’s a link to it on (ironically) Google’s Youtube)  … and although it’s hard to believe now, back then that was all about IBM and everybody knew that instantly. Today it’s total anachronism. But IBM was the giant of the industry for about 20 years. It was hated and feared. They called it Big Blue.

So now it’s Google.  What do you think: For how long? Who’s next?


  • Charles Robinson says:

    I truly believe that IBM, HP and Xerox are going to stand the test of time better than most of their contemporaries. You say they’re anachronistic but they have regularly reinvented themselves. For example, IBM started out manufacturing what would eventually become typewriters and now they build the largest supercomputers in the world. They have diversified and now dominate several other segments, too. Both HP and Xerox have gone through similar transformations.

    In comparison Microsoft hasn’t transitioned very well. They started as a software company producing products for IBM clones and that’s what they still do. Most of their attempts at diversification have failed. The XBox product chewed up billions of dollars before it finally started to turn around. To the best of my knowledge it’s not in the black yet.

    Google stands a moderate chance since they have aggressively diversified since day one. They started as a search engine, changed the game with search-based ads, and have relentless pursued the new new thing. Their competitors are fearful because they never saw Google coming. One day they’re doing invitation-only e-mail for hipsters, the next they have on-premises search appliances. They do run the risk of spreading themselves too thin, and you can only miss so many opportunities before you fail completely.

    Facebook hasn’t been around long enough to even contemplate the question and I’m not sure where their market is headed. I truly don’t understand how they generate any revenue. That might be why I’m not a 20-something billionaire.

    Oh, and you just so happened to have put this out during the annual Lotusphere conference. It’s a gathering of approximately 7,000 IBM and Lotus customers in Orlando. Expect some feedback. 🙂

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