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2003 May 08 10:32

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Re: [vox] OS/2 and Linux, why has IBM changed?
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Re: [vox] OS/2 and Linux, why has IBM changed?

On Thursday 08 May 2003 09:35 am, Peter Jay Salzman wrote:
> i think it's a matter of survival rather than good will to mankind.
> way back when, IBM was strong and healthy.  they *could* butt heads with
> microsoft, but for what purpose?  they were top of their game.  they
> followed the old dictum "nobody ever got poor by buying IBM".  they were
> on the microsoft band wagon and, more or less, peacefully coexisted.  to
> push OS/2 would upset the balance of things.
> then IBM became less healthy.  they no longer own the hardware market (i
> don't even KNOW anybody with a real IBM manufactured home system
> anymore).  they diversified into software applications and became a
> competitor with MS.   at the same time, microsoft has played footsy with
> other hardware competitors that have, historically, been IBM's main
> competitors.
> in recent years, IBM has become a ship lost at sea.  no focus and no
> direction.  it was a company that was dying of attrition.  IBM was
> trying to make gains in ecommerce solutions, voice enabled software, web
> applications, hardware and uhh...  typewriters.   ;-)  (j/k)
> linux provides IBM with a focus.  they prolly recognize that the company
> is dying of atrophy.   MS is a peripheral competitor, but one that IBM
> knows it can't beat on its own.  the only thing that can beat microsoft
> is a free product, which IBM knows it can't provide.
> when anybody thought of IBM, they thought of typewriters.  then times
> changed.  when anybody thought of IBM, they thought of the PC.  then
> times changed, and suddenly IBM had no killer product.  nobody uses
> typewriters.  nobody owns a REAL IBM PC.  and a company the size of IBM
> can't survive selling mainframes these days because mainframes are out
> of vogue.  for most applications, a powerful PC or a cluster of PC's are
> simply more cost effective.  i believe the ESS 5 phone switch uses the
> x86 architecture for its control store.
> i think IBM is counting on people thinking of IBM when they think of
> linux applications.  which is great for them because linux, for better
> or worse, is so far the hot buzzword of the late 90's/early 00's.
> i have a feeling this is going to be a high volume thread.   ;-)

Probably.  I disagree with some of your points, and agree with some.  IBM is 
in some ways the cream of the crop when it comes to many of its businesses.  
Sure it may not be the cheapest, but you do get much bang for the buck in 
IBM's quality.  If you look at why IBM is going away(well now its more went 
away) from the OS business its more because it allows them to focus on areas 
of business that make them money, and gives many of the problems(and the 
assorted support structures they were forced to hold to maintain their 
quality) to their competitors.  Funding linux gives them several things.  It 
gives them a say in how Linux evolves.  It gives them a sense of 
"morality"(not sure that is the proper word) in marketing.  They can now say, 
we're IBM, and we support the little guy(linux) vs MS(although, IBM is still 
in bed with MS as well.)  I don't see IBM as driftless and leaderless.  I see 
them as smart and focused.  They are doing what IBM customers want, and they 
will likely do it with quality as well.  Also, if you look at IBM's 
businesses, they are making money on all of them, but the greatest margin 
they have is in their software business.  They are also doing well in the 
hardware and consulting, and financing portions.  The only real problem IBM 
has is they are so friggin big, their overhead is ungodly.  I was surprised 
by IBM's quarterly report, especially given the current economic climate.  


> pete
> On Thu 08 May 03,  9:15 AM, Eric D. Pierce <epierce@surewest.net> opined:
> > Per the presentation from IBM, does anyone have any
> > observations on why they are so enthusiastic about Linux,
> > but they never properly supported or marketed OS/2?
> >
> > Conventional wisdom is that top management at IBM never
> > intended to let the OS/2 group really "bust loose", and
> > OS/2 was even specifically torpedoed by top IBM management
> > once its incredible potential became obvious.
> >
> > I'm mainly interested in "business philosophy" or
> > sociological observations.
> >
> > thanks,
> > ep

Mike Wenk
vox mailing list

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