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The following is an archive of a post made to our 'vox mailing list' by one of its subscribers.

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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?

Peter Jay Salzman scribbled with alacrity:

> i think it's a matter of survival rather than good will to mankind.


Nothing inherently wrong with that. If a paradigm is viable, it will have
"adaptive value" in the evolutionary scheme of the social ecosystem.

IMO, management fails when it doesn't clearly comprehend the adaptive
value of a paradigm, and keeps from creating obstacles to the growth of
the paradigm.

> 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.

According to "The Innovator's Dilemma", paradigm failure always happens
when a company is at the top of its game.

(DEC is a more clear example of paradigm failure than IBM because DEC's
products had more exposure to being displaced by competition from PC
servers and desktops, and didn't have the safety net of mainframes to fall
back on while regrouping).

There is specific "evidence" that IBM's top management was initially on
the fence about OS/2, and that once OS/2 started showing promise, it got
shut down for reasons that have more to do with "vision" than markets or

My theory, which could be mostly "manoora", is that the idea of mass
market products/services was so alien to the core paradigm of old tech
elites that produced high-end products/services (such as IBM) that they
simply could not support a organizational "vision" or "culture" that
supported the growth of mass market products.

> 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).

I think that a survey of market data might surprise you.

But, supposedly IBM never really made money on desktops. They made them so
that they could compete with a complete vertical product stack (all the
way from mainframe to laptop) for large customers that wanted a "single
vendor" solution.

>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)

My understanding is that more mainframes were sold, but far, after the
internet boom than before. storage needs for .com stuff were massive.

I think IBM sells something like 98% of mainframes.

Look at IBM's contract to run the IT stuff for the Olympics. People say it
is a huge and impressive sucess story.

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