Gizmodo produced this helpful map of the battlefronts between Microsoft, Google, and Apple. One could expand this endlessly, but a couple of other fronts to note might be Amazon’s commerce/content/cloud platform, and mobile/internet carriers fighting to keep from being commodity pipes. Notice none of the device-centric players are on the map – a bummer for one who appreciates devices and design.
As a person with a strategic bent, I find the dynamics of the tech market scintillating. This is why I left the food business for the personal technology market. In food, with all of its marketing know-how, if unit sales were growing faster than the population growth, you had a winner, and then almost always at someone else’s expense. In tech, the internet happens, Google search happens, and iPhone happens. Competing tenaciously, companies with a lot of smart, creative people try to out-awesome each other. Things change as a result — change which impacts and (mostly) enables the way billions of people do things.
As a matter of belief, I refuse to trust technology to fundamentally improve the state of the world. For every boon (e.g., the ubiquity of communication counters ignorance and exposes badness), there is a bane (e.g., people consume and create as much unhealthy content as conscience allows). The root of the world’s trouble is not a gap in the sufficiency of wizzy tech. But at least tech causes movement, and in movement comes opportunity — opportunities for profit, sure, but also for other goodness.
Despite conspiracy theories, I believe Larry and Sergey are sincere when they pledge Google to avoid “evil.” Many might argue that their moral compass is out of alignment, but they do put forth efforts on clean energy and employ civil disobedience in the name of freedom. And their search tool lets me find information and people instantly. Microsoft’s success has funded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And their Office apps are my favorite tool kit. Apple has done many….hmmm. Well, at least my wife finally can access my calendar via her iPhone (and Google).
One of the things I appreciate most about tech is that it creates new markets. Instead of spending my (whole) day trying to ruin competitors by taking share, profit, bonuses, jobs, and livelihoods from them, I can add new value and new capability to customers. Hopefully, they do good things with that capability, and hopefully, I’ll set a good example.
I get the value of competition in providing economic benefit and do my part in combat, but I advocate a balance of intent (I love the B Corp concept). Let me work on the innovative front, climbing new mountains, rather than focusing exclusively on knocking people off the old ones. And cheers for our God-given capability to invent things that create those opportunities.