I think competition is good. I think healthy competition forces people and companies to push themselves further, innovate greater and drive products to the next level. Competition gave us Windows 7, the iPhone, and a host of other technologies and products as vendors looked to up their game and compete. While I don't consider myself a fanboy of anything except perhaps Aaron Sorkin or NYC bagels, I also think fanboys (and fangirls) are good. I like people who are really passionate about the technology they buy and stand behind their passion. It's good for people to be excited about tech. So if you're a Windows 7, Snow Leopard or Ubuntu lover, I say. "Excellent!" Heck, if you're a Newton, Amiga or Vectrex aficionado and hate anything created past 1995, that's cool too. I'm talking about something else. I'm talking about a philosophy that says, If I win, then you must lose.
We've all it seen it a million times. Story after story written about how product X is a product Y killer. But here's the thing: there's no reason that product X needs to kill product Y. There's no reason X and Y can't both can't succeed in a given marketplace, each carving out their respective shares.
I understand that it's not quite that simple, and in the past, not always true. Some of this is historical. Look back at the tech industry and you see it was relatively small just a few years ago. There was only so much room for products that essentially did the same thing, and someone had to win, while others were going to lose. It's even true to some extent in today's market where there are finite resources. As we've discussed before, there's only a certain number of developers and therefore six
All of us want the same thing: cool products that make our lives a little better and empower us to do more while having some fun along the way.
But there is a difference between a platform that dies as a result of natural evolutionary forces and one that gets "killed off" by a competitor. Perhaps it's a small difference, but I think it's an important one. Whether you're a vendor or a passionate user, tell me why your stuff is great instead of telling me why your competitor's products are bad. In the end, positive evangelism is the best marketing tool out there, especially in today's market with room for lots of really great products.
I have the pleasure to meet with and talk to a lot of journalists, analysts, bloggers and pundits in the course of a given week In the end, almost all of us want the same thing: cool products that make our lives a little better and empower us to do more while having some fun along the way. We'll take them from whoever delivers. Microsoft doesn't need to kill Apple and Apple doesn't need to kill Palm. There's plenty of room in the market for the best products -- gadget evolution will take care of the rest in the long run.
Michael Gartenberg is vice president of strategy and analysis at Interpret, LLC. His weblog can be found at gartenblog.net, and he can be emailed at gartenberg AT gmail DOT com. Views expressed here are his own.