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Gates, IBM is number one, but how many balls can you juggle?

January 6, 2006

At CES, Bill Gates said IBM is our number one competition . Ok, I’m fine with that, as I’ve said before, everyone shoots for number one. At least we’re relevant to them.

Here’s my point, I’ll use an analogy. To win an Olympic medal, you have to keep your eye on the goal, win the Gold. You train hard, eat right, strict schedule and most of all FOCUS.

Microsoft is trying to release Vista, compete against Sony and Nintendo with the XBox360, fend off Google, win ODF issues (perception and reality), legal battles around the world on monopoly issues, fight off Linux both in server and in the desktop, Google issues, Yahoo issues, instant messaging, dot.Net in the middleware space, office application needs/updates and star office competition, mobile and hand held device operating system competition, need I go on?

So how in the world are they going to focus on winning? I get multi-tasking, although Windows doesn’t do that as well as Unix/Linux but come on! How are you going to concentrate on not dropping a ball here.

One would say, yeah but these are only Software issues, look at IBM or Sun that has hardware and software, and services. This would be a good point, but Microsoft is doing better than Sun, so throw them out of this argument for now.

IBM has lived through these issues more than once, trial by fire changing from tabulating machines to computers, from near death to resurrection by Gerstner, changing the business model from mainframe only to software and services. Oh yea, and a lot of mistakes along the way like the one that made Microsoft a company, giving away the PC operating system.

Does Microsoft need to re-invent themselves? Not in the traditional sense, but they are going through growing pains that will either get them focused or diluted to just juggling.

Going away? Hardly, they’ll be a force for a while. Sun was a force during the dot.net bubble also. IBM was a force during the 360 days also.

Predictions here? No, just wondering about history before it happens. At least they think we’re number one. Or maybe Bill is trying to get the press to focus on IBM and not on him.

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