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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 Thu 08 May 03, 10:03 AM, Michael Wenk <wenk@praxis.homedns.org> opined:
> 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.

what exactly was IBM's killer product in the mid 90's?   nobody used
typewriters.  nobody really used OS/2.  other companies that provided
cheaper PC's were flourishing because the average person was less
knowledgable about what "quality components" meant.  the only thing i
can think of is the high end mini and mainframe market.  but by the mid
90's, even that was out of vogue, and can't support a company with such
a big overhead (as you point out).

i can't think of anything that you could point to and say "IBM is king
of this market" in the mid 90's.  i think they see linux as providing
them with the opportunity to have a "killer product" again.

i agree with your other reasons why they're behind linux, but i think
this is their primary reason.

> 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.

which didn't really take off until the late 90's, after IBM already
started making overtures to linux.  i can't recall much marketing till
their "ebusiness solutions' commercials (which is very well done, imho).

> 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.  
> Mike
i actually do see IBM as being confused, even today, and have a few data
points to back that up.  they have a number of software products that
could've easily have been something that we all have on our systems, yet
nobody knows about them because marketing has been so poor.  for

in my opinion, their techexplorer package could be the answer to the
entire academic community's dreams.  the ability to put our research on
the web without the ugly, stupid, and time consuming latex2html.  we can
put our entire research on the web without modifying anything, and with
very small downloads.  it could be big.  but every other researcher i
talk with is like "huh?" when i mention techexplorer.

they dropped the ball on viavoice, too.  there's currently no mature and
compelling voice recognition software on linux.  it all sucks right now.
i actually bought viavoice for linux, and it totally blew chunks.  some
bonehead made the decision to use java, and the thing is too dog slow to
be useful.  they eventually discontinued it (i think).  they should've
realized their product sucked and fixed it rather than hide it under the
carpet.  it could've been big.
not to mention they didn't even bother writing a decent bug free

i see lots of software that had the "right idea" but was executed and
marketed poorly.


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