The Internet is not the next computing revolution, but a trend that has been stage managed by the IT industry primarily to hit out at Microsoft. This was the controversial theme of a keynote speech from Mitch Kerzman, chairman and co-CEO of Sybase, opening the IT Forum event in San Francisco this week.
Kerzman condemned the computer industry for fighting ?geopolitical wars? rather than focusing on the interests of customers, claiming many vendors are pushing the Internet solely for their own political reasons.
In his speech, he compared the behaviour of the computer industry to modern politics. Like modern day (US politicians, he said, vendors are attacking their competitors' ideas, rather than focusing on their customers? (or voters?) needs. And, as in geopolitical warfare, a small number of large players are fighting for control of the market ? with customers caught in the middle.
?A lot of what is being done, is done to bring down one of the players," Kerzman said. He referred specifically to the Internet, suggesting that many vendors are merely pushing the Internet paradigm to hurt Microsoft. But he also singled out Windows 98, which he said offers little or no added benefit to the user over its predecessor.
Kerzman challenged the notion that the Internet is the next platform shift in the computing industry. He remarked that previous platform shifts have tended to end the dominance of one player, while bringing another vendor to the foreground - for instance, the move from mainframes to minis led to the demise of mainframe software players like Cullinet, and the rise of Oracle. The move from MS-Dos to Windows tripped up Lotus and made Microsoft the number one PC software vendor.
Another typical feature of a platform shift, said Kerzman, is that we only observe it after it has happened. The Internet revolution, by contrast, was pre-announced and even ?managed? by a number of major players, intent on displacing another player ? Microsoft. And, unlike previous platform shifts, the dominant company has remained in place. Other big players, like IBM, have also adapted to the Internet, Kerzman remarks.
?The Internet looks a lot more like an extension of distributed computing, rather than a revolution," he concluded.
However, he did not dismiss the Net's impact, but feels it has been taken up in the wrong quarters. ?The Internet is more of a revolution in communications than in computing," he pointed out.
Kerzman said the challenge for IT vendors ? as well as for IT users - is to use the Internet to get closer to customers, what he calls customer centric computing.
For more on the speech, see analysis section.
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