Anthropologists tell us about the olden days, when (predominantly) men stood with spears and threatened each other. Over the years we've moved on, using swords, then guns, then nuclear weapons before finding the ultimate weapon: lawyers.
The technology industry, being so new, has resorted to legal battles more than most. However much we'd like to see a cage fight between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs using chainsaws (two men enter, one man leaves), the fact remains that the technology industry has fought its battles in court, or in competition in the marketplace, albeit with heavily stacked odds.
This week we've seen VMware declare war on Microsoft and Citrix over virtualisation. That battle is far from finishing but, in its honour, we've complied the best fights of the IT industry.
Battles are contentious by default, so if you think we've missed something let us know.
Mention: HP versus Dell
Shaun Nichols: This is one of the more recent feuds to come about, though it may also be one of the most lucrative.
When HP wrapped up its purchase of Compaq, the company found itself in a nearly identical market with Dell. Both companies produced home PCs, enterprise workstations and server equipment.
Since then Dell and HP have become the two giants battling for top spot in the enterprise IT field. If you're in a modern office setting, chances are you have plenty of hardware from one or both of these companies sitting around.
Most recently the feud has become increasingly heated as the companies were neck and neck for the title of top PC vendor. Now, with the economy souring, the two firms are still struggling to duke it out in the market while tightening their own belts.
Iain Thomson: I'm not so sure about this one. Certainly Dell and HP were keen to tussle for the top spot but they are very different companies.
Dell is predominantly a corporate systems supplier. Around three quarters of its sales go to the corporate and government markets, while HP has a consumer customer base who don't know that much about computing but want a system that works.
Nevertheless, the stock market likes a leader so, after the Compaq merger, HP worked hard at getting the number one position. It did so by lowballing on price and employing sales staff who made a rabid Scientologist look unmotivated.
Has it helped HP? I have my doubts. Dell always struck me as a smarter company while HP was more concerned about marketing. Not to say Dell doesn't have its faults – its insistence on non-standard laptop power supplies led me to junk the last notebook I had from the firm – but it delivers what corporates want. HP is learning to do this too, so we'll see who wins out.
What the companies need to avoid is a serious war that leaves both incapacitated. There are a lot of OEMs just waiting for them to slip, and if that happens I suspect they will learn the truth of the old adage: the higher you are on the tree, the blunter the saw.
mention: Sendo versus Microsoft
Iain Thomson: Microsoft's alliance with Sendo looked like a triumph for British industry. Microsoft took a stake in Sendo and was to build its first smartphone with the British company.
But things started to go wrong fairly quickly. The first Sendo phone was due, then delayed, then due again. Some review units were sent out that worked well by the standards of the time.
Then Microsoft dropped the bombshell. Sendo was to be dumped, the phone scrapped and the UK company was facing legal action. A few months later Taiwanese manufacturer HTC signed a deal with Microsoft to produce Redmond's first smartphone. Those of us who smelled foul play were unable to prove it but the damage was done.
So, of course, the regular round of legal action began, but it wasn't so much David versus Goliath as Bambi versus Godzilla. Sendo got beaten like a red-headed stepchild and Microsoft went on to bigger things, although hardly better considering HTC's lamentable lack of talent when it comes to phone hardware.
Shaun Nichols: The only thing more futile than trying to take on Microsoft in the market is trying to take on Microsoft in court.
But really, Sendo made its big mistake when it tied its fortunes on Microsoft's delivering a solid product on time. Microsoft is one of those companies that rarely gets it right on the 1.0 release.
Usually it take two or three versions and several years for a Microsoft product to reach its full potential. In the meantime, a lot of collateral damage is done to whoever is foolish enough to be in the way of the product or dependant on its success.
It's a shame, because Sendo could have been a great story for UK technology. After seeing what Nokia is to Finland and Samsung to Korea, one laments even more the lost opportunity for Britain's tech industry.
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