I remember when IBM was the king of the hill. I started with MVS in the late 1960’s with IBM Germany and then in NYC at IBM World Trade. IBM couldn’t do anything wrong in the 1970’s. By that time it had become a huge ship. Any huge ship, with a big installed base, doesn’t usually sink – the maintenance money keeps it afloat. But it is extremely difficult because of the load of the installed base to turn around if some strategies were not right. When I sat in meetings when the phrase uttered at the meetings was “we should concur to non-concur” I thought in 1981 that it was time for me to leave IBM. I also had reached my glass ceiling being a woman and that too an immigrant and on top of it being only five feet tall or short whichever way one can think. After my putting together the announcement of IBM PC for IBM Europe/Middle East/Africa I knew that PC was the future. And at that time I realized that IBM was not God. They are no longer the king of the hill. They had only hardware of the PC. IBM was too big, sitting in meetings and couldn’t even have a decent operating system for their own PC. The operating system delivered was of Microsoft – Windows.
Many applications for Windows were developed by many nimble companies. Apple was a closed system (which still is – it has its pluses as well as its minuses- with an elitist attitude). Because of the applications, running under Windows, IBM PC flourished. But IBM’s profit margin was minuscule compared to the behemoths of their 360’s and 370’s mainframe computers. And many small companies created competitors to IBM PC which in the end was sold to a Chinese company- Lenovo. Microsoft became the king of the Hill in mid-1980’s.
Well, that too lasted only one and a half decade – till late 1990’s. Microsoft kept on making new releases of Windows for its Cash Register to ring – even if the previous Windows version had no major problems. Late nineteen hundreds and the first decade of the 21st century Microsoft became a huge ship with the very similar problem that of IBM’s. The latest Windows 10 is a piece of sh*t. Using IBM books brought them to the same juncture. Now they are making money on Cloud – well not with their own hardware – but because of the installed base they are keeping their ship afloat. Microsoft tried to get into the Internet world – even mimicking Netscape (a part of AOL which is a part of Verizon Communications.) But Microsoft’s many ventures became “afterthoughts” (such as trying to compete with Apple by buying telephone company Nokia which didn’t make sense at all.) The same fate was ushered to Microsoft as that to IBM. So now Microsoft is no longer King of the Hill. Internet world took the glory from Microsoft. Now we are in early 2000’s.
In the meantime, there were a few mini-Gods such as Oracle, SAP – to name a few. But the growth of the 1980’s and 1990’s is stunted for them. Some of these mini-Gods are using “cost-cutting” measures too. What does it mean? They are going to be keeping their big, heavy ships of the installed base afloat. But they are no longer even mini-Gods.
Internet world brought the Yahoo’s and alike as search engines. Silicon Valley went into Overdrive. It gave birth to Google. Google’s roots are in a search engine. But now they have added: Google Map, AdSense, DoubleClick, and YouTube – just to name some acquisitions. The ship is becoming too heavy. Some youngsters think Google is GOD. There have been many GODs before Google.
Google is still at the top of the hill – but the next GOD is going to be Artificial Intelligence combined with Machine Learning & Virtual Reality. Everyone has a place in the sun. But the sun also sets.
I would think the next GOD sitting at the top of the hill will be here by 2022.