Monday, January 30, 2006

Google and Microsoft - Lessons why you never say never

Mike Langberg of Knight-Ridder has a good piece describing how Google is increasingly having to eat its "Don't be Evil" words. At a young age, my parents often told me "never say never". I've certainly learned that as a parent but it's also applicable in the business world where there are few absolutes in a dynamic market. Early in the days of focusing on vertical markets at Microsoft, some of my counterparts would say "Microsoft will never do vertical applications" in response to questions about how IBM and others who'd been "partners" had turned around and competed with them. Though it was hard to imagine when we were such a tiny group that Microsoft would ever do vertical applications, I'd resist the temptation to say that as there's little I hate more than having to eat my words. Instead, I'd give partners a few insights into how Microsoft thinks. In this case, it was the fact that Microsoft's DNA is to only do things that can be sold in millions (or at least 100's of thousands) units. That does indeed eliminate most vertical applications but there are some exceptions as the later acquisitions of Great Plains (and others) show.

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