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科技业12大历史纠纷编辑本段回目录

国外媒体上周六撰文评述了科技业史上12大纠纷,包括惠普与戴尔、英特尔与AMD、微软与谷歌等数对宿敌的纷争史。厂商之间的竞争有时能致使整个行业陷入困境,但更多的是促进行业不断创新。

  惠普对决戴尔

  收购康柏后,惠普与戴尔在多个领域短兵相接,争夺PC业老大的位置。戴尔清楚企业用户的需求,惠普则更理解消费者的心思;戴尔3/4的销售额来自企业和政府市场,惠普用户则主要是普通消费者。戴尔是家更聪明的公司,且总是能满足企业用户所需,而惠普更注重营销推广,同时也在试着让企业用户更加满意。两家公司应避免两败俱伤,因为许多OEM厂商都在等着蚕食其市场份额。

  Sendo起诉微软

  英国手机厂商Sendo与微软结盟被视作是英国手机业的胜利。微软购入了Sendo的股份,计划由后者生产其首部智能手机。但Sendo手机发布时间再三推迟,微软随后做出惊人之举,将其首部智能手机生产订单交给宏达电。2002年,Sendo与微软反目成仇,起诉后者窃取其技术和客户资料。

  Sendo犯下的错误是,寄望于微软能及时推出一款优秀的产品,让自己的命运与此紧密相连。微软很少能一次性推出像样的产品,总要经历多个版本升级和数年时间才能渐入佳境。任何厂商如果妨碍微软产品横行市场,或其前景取决于微软产品能否成功,最终都只会损害自身。而遗憾的是,Sendo原本可以像芬兰的诺基亚和韩国的三星一样,成为英国科技业的成功神话。

  微软对战谷歌

  微软是操作系统浏览器和软件领域的霸主。而谷歌是互联网之王。搜索广告业务的巨大成功让谷歌财力十足。现在,随着互联网日渐成为日常计算的中心,两家公司都想侵入彼此的地盘,因此渐成竞争之势。微软对谷歌称雄利润颇丰的网络广告市场虎视眈眈,谷歌也对微软称霸的办公软件和生产力软件垂涎不已。

  许多人认为,谷歌在与微软的竞争中占了上风,其搜索业务牢不可破,现在又开始免费提供应用程序,而这些软件一直是微软最大的收入来源。事实上,谷歌在竞争游戏中仍是新手,而十年来与政府机构打交道的经验让微软在应对监管机构时具备更多优势。

  IBM对战CDC

  IBM是PC行业的先锋,随后CDC在超级计算机领域异军突起,使IBM面临极大挑战。竞争初期,CDC似乎胜券在握,该公司的信念是,少即是多。这一战略后来被许多竞争对手所模仿。

  CDC推出了当时市场上鲜有匹敌的CDC 6800型超级计算机,打了IBM一个措手不及。IBM不甘人后,提前公布了甚至尚不存在的Model 92超级计算机。企业用户开始等待Model 92上市,导致CDC的超级计算机无人问津。这一策略最终导致IBM被罚款6亿美元。

  CDC接下来发布了性能远胜于CDC 6800的机型,但不幸经济危机来袭,市场反响有限。超级计算机天才西摩·克瑞 (Seymour Cray)也黯然离去。

  Mac OS对决Windows

  二十年来,消费者一直面临着“Mac还是PC”这样的选择,这实际上是在Mac OS系统和Windows系统中做出抉择。

  Mac系统最先普及图形用户界面,微软随后发布了Windows第一个版本,一场市场份额大战就此打响。二者用户均互不相让。Mac OS系统更优雅,不易受病毒攻击,Windows则用户众多,可运行在廉价电脑上。Mac始终占据着约10%的市场份额,在创意行业更受青睐,Windows则称霸PC市场,在商务和游戏领域无可替代。

  史蒂夫·乔布斯对决约翰·斯卡利

  上世纪80年代中期,苹果曾身限困境。当时苹果电脑畅销市场,但公司却由两个极为天真的人管理。苹果两位创始人史蒂夫·乔布斯(Steve Jobs)和史蒂夫·沃兹尼亚克(Steve Wozniak)把公司发展为数一数二的电脑厂商,但在管理一家现代化的公司方面仍略显稚嫩。因此,乔布斯如华尔街所愿,挖来百事公司总裁约翰·斯卡利(John Scully)。

  斯卡利以有效营销和成本控制能力著称,上任初期成绩斐然。他通过严格的库存管理和削减边际项目节省了公司运营成本,随后,他决定“裁减”苹果创始人乔布斯。乔布斯用其个人魅力创建了苹果,这让许多公司董事不满。斯卡利投其所好孤立乔布斯,最终迫使乔布斯被赶出自己一手创办的公司。斯卡利自以为赢得一役,但他对科技业知之甚少,导致苹果既无远见又无重心,最终举步维艰。

  乔布斯后来被公司回聘,回到苹果后他立即着手大幅减少公司生产的电脑型号,并对现有产品大加改进,由此创造了iMac——许多人眼中苹果有史以来最为重要的产品。这场纷争让苹果元气大伤,而当时苹果原本能对微软形成阻击之势。

  SCO对决Novell、IBM

  这是IT史上最知名的纷争之一。在CEO达尔·麦克布莱德(Darl McBride)带领下的软件厂商SCO起诉网络设备厂商Novell和IBM侵犯其专利权,包括Unix的关键组件及Unix的衍生开源产品。换言之,SCO认为企业Linux系统归自己独家所有。

  幸运的是,SCO的诉求未获支持而失败,公司也陷于破产境地。同时,麦克布莱德和SCO也步入微软的行列,成为科技业最不受待见的形象之一。

  IBM对决监管机构

  PC业兴起之初,有句老话是“没人会因购买IBM电脑而遭解雇。”IBM成立的前二十年里在PC业处于领先地位。尽管纳粹德国使用IBM电脑协助实施大屠杀,但美国最终加入二战时,IBM为美方做出了不少贡献,并只拿走1%的应得收入,因此建立起自己的声誉。

  但IBM手里握有一些足以让PC业其它厂商裹足不前的专利。直到史无前例的汉威对史派瑞案,这起专利诉讼案意味着IBM失去了对PC产业的控制权,其专利权纷纷失效,IBM及其代理商曾运用这些专利牢牢控制着PC市场。随后,PC业获得了巨大的发展,不到五年时间内第一台个人电脑面市,其它一切随之成为历史。

  业界人士总是认为,监管会妨碍创新。当某个行业被政府牢牢管辖,就没有哪家公司有意创新。然而,从IBM案中可以看出,政府的介入事实上也能促进行业的创新。IBM当时是单一中央式电脑系统的坚实拥趸,对个人工作站毫无兴趣。即使多年后,PC技术发展到一定程度时,仍有人怀疑IBM是否愿意进入利润较低的个人电脑市场。

  美国政府打破了IBM的独霸地位和专利权,让市场做好了准备迎接20世纪70、80年代PC业的兴起。同时也为IT界日后的反垄断案提供了可供借鉴的先例,如其它厂商对AT&T和微软的诉讼。

  Salesforce对决Seibel

  1999年Salesforce.com网站上线,主打产品是基于网络的客户关系管理(CRM)工具。小公司可以按月订购这项服务,而不是一次购买所有功能。CRM软件先驱Sieble对该做法嗤之以鼻,该公司的产品动辄耗资数万美元,其客户都是大企业,不会轻易更换产品。

  但Salesforce的软件即服务(SaaS)运营模式被证明是一个极大的成功,该公司不断赢得企业用户青睐,而Siebel的市场份额日渐萎缩。Siebel既不足以撼动市场老大SAP软件公司的地位,又无法与灵活多变的Salesforce抗衡,最终被甲骨文收购。

  Commodore对决众多对手

  Commodore最初是电子计算器厂商,但在与德州仪器的竞争中落败而退出该市场。德州仪器以更低的价格出售电子计算器,从而赢得大量市场份额。这促使Commodore决定进军个人电脑市场,最终导致了该公司的没落。

  Commodore最初推出的产品广受欢迎,其董事会因此意欲占领整个市场。当时Commodore在市场上处于领先地位,但随着苹果和IBM也进入个人电脑市场,该公司决定全面展开反击,与每家厂商展开竞争迫使新晋厂商退出市场,从而攫取大量利润。起初Commodore的削价策略有一定收效,德州仪器退出了市场,电脑游戏厂商Atari也遭受重创导致整整一代程序员失业。电脑产业陷于首次衰退,而Commodore就是罪魁祸首。Commodore付出极大代价获得了胜利,但该公司现在只是PC史上的一个回忆,很快就将被人们遗忘。

  英特尔对决AMD

  英特尔是第一家现代化的芯片厂商,也是目前全球最大的芯片厂商,其年收入比一些小国家财政收入还要多。英特尔由仙童半导体的各利益方结盟成立,而AMD也与仙童半导体不无关系,其成立之初与英特尔合作甚好。事实上,英特尔与IBM合作获得的成功应归功于其与AMD的竞争,因为有关机构要求IBM同时拥有两家芯片供应商。

  然而,英特尔在1986年开始停止对AMD的支持,拒绝提供AMD所需的芯片设计。历经耗时八年的诉讼,英特尔被判决赔偿AMD的损失,但对AMD造成的影响一直延续至今。AMD如今也开始复仇,起诉英特尔向OEM合伙伙伴提供高额折扣,要求OEM厂商优先采用英特尔处理器。欧盟和美国的法庭尚未做出判决,但多少都偏向于AMD这一方。

  不过,两家公司的竞争推动了技术的发展。目前英特尔在市场份额上领先于AMD,后者眼下正受财务状况的困扰。

  微软对决网景

  20世纪90年代,互联网日渐兴起。网景浏览器成为浏览器市场的王者。紧盯着这一市场的微软也想分一杯羹,利用Windows安装在几乎每台电脑上的优势,微软捆绑推出了免费的IE 浏览器,而网景浏览器当时是一款收费软件。

  用户因此纷纷采用IE浏览器,网景浏览器日渐陨落,公司陷于破产境地,网景因此起诉微软。随着案件调查的深入,监管机构发现微软利用其Windows系统的垄断性地位,将其它公司排挤出市场。

  尽管在这场著名的浏览器大战中落败,但网景的诉讼迫使微软不得不在日后大幅改变其市场策略。而Mozilla基金会旗下脱胎于网景的火狐浏览器眼下正在日渐侵吞IE浏览器的市场份额。(晓彬)

Top 10 technology tussles编辑本段回目录

Iain Thomson and Shaun Nichols in San Francisco, V3.co.uk 05 Sep 2009

Anthropologists tell us about the olden days, when (predominantly) men stood with spears and threatened each other. Over the years we've moved on, using swords, then guns, then nuclear weapons before finding the ultimate weapon: lawyers.

The technology industry, being so new, has resorted to legal battles more than most. However much we'd like to see a cage fight between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs using chainsaws (two men enter, one man leaves), the fact remains that the technology industry has fought its battles in court, or in competition in the marketplace, albeit with heavily stacked odds.

This week we've seen VMware declare war on Microsoft and Citrix over virtualisation. That battle is far from finishing but, in its honour, we've complied the best fights of the IT industry.

Battles are contentious by default, so if you think we've missed something let us know.

Honourable Mention: HP versus Dell
Shaun Nichols: This is one of the more recent feuds to come about, though it may also be one of the most lucrative.

When HP wrapped up its purchase of Compaq, the company found itself in a nearly identical market with Dell. Both companies produced home PCs, enterprise workstations and server equipment.

Since then Dell and HP have become the two giants battling for top spot in the enterprise IT field. If you're in a modern office setting, chances are you have plenty of hardware from one or both of these companies sitting around.

Most recently the feud has become increasingly heated as the companies were neck and neck for the title of top PC vendor. Now, with the economy souring, the two firms are still struggling to duke it out in the market while tightening their own belts.

Iain Thomson: I'm not so sure about this one. Certainly Dell and HP were keen to tussle for the top spot but they are very different companies.

Dell is predominantly a corporate systems supplier. Around three quarters of its sales go to the corporate and government markets, while HP has a consumer customer base who don't know that much about computing but want a system that works.

Nevertheless, the stock market likes a leader so, after the Compaq merger, HP worked hard at getting the number one position. It did so by lowballing on price and employing sales staff who made a rabid Scientologist look unmotivated.

Has it helped HP? I have my doubts. Dell always struck me as a smarter company while HP was more concerned about marketing. Not to say Dell doesn't have its faults – its insistence on non-standard laptop power supplies led me to junk the last notebook I had from the firm – but it delivers what corporates want. HP is learning to do this too, so we'll see who wins out.

What the companies need to avoid is a serious war that leaves both incapacitated. There are a lot of OEMs just waiting for them to slip, and if that happens I suspect they will learn the truth of the old adage: the higher you are on the tree, the blunter the saw.

Honourable mention: Sendo versus Microsoft
Iain Thomson: Microsoft's alliance with Sendo looked like a triumph for British industry. Microsoft took a stake in Sendo and was to build its first smartphone with the British company.

But things started to go wrong fairly quickly. The first Sendo phone was due, then delayed, then due again. Some review units were sent out that worked well by the standards of the time.

Then Microsoft dropped the bombshell. Sendo was to be dumped, the phone scrapped and the UK company was facing legal action. A few months later Taiwanese manufacturer HTC signed a deal with Microsoft to produce Redmond's first smartphone. Those of us who smelled foul play were unable to prove it but the damage was done.

So, of course, the regular round of legal action began, but it wasn't so much David versus Goliath as Bambi versus Godzilla. Sendo got beaten like a red-headed stepchild and Microsoft went on to bigger things, although hardly better considering HTC's lamentable lack of talent when it comes to phone hardware.

Shaun Nichols: The only thing more futile than trying to take on Microsoft in the market is trying to take on Microsoft in court.

But really, Sendo made its big mistake when it tied its fortunes on Microsoft's delivering a solid product on time. Microsoft is one of those companies that rarely gets it right on the 1.0 release.

Usually it take two or three versions and several years for a Microsoft product to reach its full potential. In the meantime, a lot of collateral damage is done to whoever is foolish enough to be in the way of the product or dependant on its success.

It's a shame, because Sendo could have been a great story for UK technology. After seeing what Nokia is to Finland and Samsung to Korea, one laments even more the lost opportunity for Britain's tech industry.

10. Microsoft versus Google
Shaun Nichols: Yet another recently-born rivalry, the battle between Google and Microsoft may well determine who becomes the alpha dog in tech for the coming decades.

Microsoft is the reigning king of computing. The software giant maintains a stranglehold on key areas such as operating systems, web browsing and software. Google, however, is the king of the internet. The success of the flagship search engine has given Google a cash cow in the form of search advertising.

Now, as the internet increasingly becomes the basis for day-to-day computing activity, the two companies, once thought to occupy different ends of the industry, find themselves on a collision course. Microsoft is eyeing a share of Google's lucrative online advertising business, while Google is increasingly using its online applications to target Microsoft's stranglehold on the workplace utility and productivity market.

Iain Thomson: When a senior member of Microsoft announced he was leaving for Google, Steve Ballmer (the Uncle Fester of the computing world) was reportedly so enraged that he threw a chair across the room.

Now I can't blame Ballmer for that – smashing things is amazingly good therapy – but it shows how deep the rivalry is between these two companies. Microsoft has been the top dog for two decades and it'll give up that supremacy when you pry the keyboard from its cold, dead fingers.

Now you might think that Google has the upper hand in the fight. It has the search business in a lock, and has started giving away applications that Microsoft has used as a cash cow for years. But Google is the fresh-faced ingénue in the game, while a decade of fighting with governments has given Mi crosoft a vital advantage in the management arms race.

Microsoft is now gathering a force to slap down Google by any means possible. Microsoft may believe it has a lot in common with the Fellowship of the Ring, but I suspect there's more of a touch of Sauron in its motives.

9. IBM versus CDC
Iain Thomson: As we'll see later, IBM ruled the roost for the first years of computing. But a small team behind Control Data Corporation (CDC) took on Big Blue and caused them some serious hurt.

CDC took on IBM in the supercomputing field, and at first appeared to be winning. It set as its ethos to offer less for more, a strategy that has been mimicked ever since by competitors in computing.

Then a tiny company, CDC nevertheless out-engineered IBM with the CDC 6800, which outperformed anything else on the market. This caught IBM off guard, causing it to pre-announce the release of the Model 92, which would be just as fast. The computer didn't even exist when it was announced, but sales for CDC kit dried up while the market waited. IBM's tactics eventually cost it $600m in fines, a major chunk of cash at the time. But the damage was done.

CDC's next big iron project was much better than the 6800, but was released during a recession and failed to get serious market footprint. Supercomputing genius Seymour Cray left the company and it was all downhill from there.

Shaun Nichols: If there's any good that came out of the Cold War, it's what the conflict did to the development of IT. So many of the early computing firms were able to get started because of the huge military contracts that were being handed out left, right and centre as Nato rushed to update its military operations and Nasa leapt into the space race.

Another benefit of the era was the opportunity for smaller firms to start up. World War II produced a new crop of talented engineers working on systems such as radar and codebreaking equipment. On returning home, many of those engineers entered the workforce and some of them even started companies. One of these was Control Data, a small firm that set up shop at an old aircraft plant in Minnesota.

With companies such as IBM looking to get into the burgeoning market for computing, CDC needed an advantage to keep pace. They got it in the form of a brilliant young engineer named Seymour Cray. The machines Cray designed sparked the supercomputing market. IBM then attempted to keep pace with its own deep pockets and stable of engineering minds.

The resulting back and forth between the two groups led to countless breakthroughs in computing throughout CDC's life and later through Cray Computing. When the Cold War finally ended the race, both sides had contributed new technologies and methods that are still driving innovation in the IT sector today.

8. MacOS versus Windows
Shaun Nichols: For more than two decades the popular debate among computing enthusiasts has been Mac or PC? But the majority of the time the debate was really between Windows and MacOS operating systems.

While Apple can't take credit for inventing the graphical user interface – that honour lies with Xerox PARC - the Macintosh was the first to bring it to a wide audience, and when Microsoft produced the first version of Windows, a battle of epic proportions kicked off.

Since then Mac users and PC users have been locked in a war of words. MacOS is more elegant, intuitive and less prone to malware attacks, while Windows is more widely supported and runs on cheaper hardware.

The only reason the Mac/Windows battle doesn't rank higher is that the battle has more or less stabilised, if not settled. Macintosh machines take up somewhere around 10 per cent of the market and keep a foothold with the creative types, while Windows copes with the larger market and maintains dominance with the business and gamer crowds.

Iain Thomson: Back in the day there really was a fight between Apple and Microsoft. As Shaun mentioned Apple popularised the GUI, with Microsoft coming up from behind with a frankly inferior product.

But Microsoft leveraged its huge user base to outstrip Apple, and the cash from that, plus some stupid decisions by Apple's John Scully, left it able to defend the charges from Apple that it had stolen the GUI idea, a frankly ridiculous claim since Apple had stolen it in the first place.

Actually Apple's conflicts with Microsoft were immensely useful for the latter. Microsoft pumped money into Apple when the company was in a post-Jobs death spiral, just so it could say that it had competition in the operating system market. This provided a useful argument against anti-trust cases for the equivalent of Bill Gates's pocket change.

7. Steve Jobs versus John Scully
Iain Thomson: In the mid-1980s Apple was in trouble. Sure, it had one of the best selling computers on the market but the firm was being run by two people who were, in business terms, naïve at best.

Steve Jobs had used Steve Wozniak's skills to build Apple into a computer powerhouse. But neither of them knew the first thing about running a modern company. So, at the advice of his backers, Jobs went after a modern chief executive who could run the company as Wall Street demanded.

Jobs worked hard to get John Scully, then president of Pepsi. Scully had achieved his position by marketing the products well, strict cost control and - more mean spirited people said - by marrying the boss's daughter.

Initially Scully was a success. He cut down on Apple's operating costs by enforcing rigorous inventory control and cutting out useless side projects. Then he decided to cut out another area of the business he saw getting in his way: Steve Jobs.

Jobs found himself comprehensively outmanoeuvred by Scully. Jobs had built Apple around a personality cult, but in doing so had pissed off a lot of people, noticeably many members of the board. Scully pandered to these people and sought to isolate Jobs. This aim was helped by Steve Jobs behaving with all the maturity of a five-year old with ADD.

So Jobs was forced out. He sold off his stock, turned his back on most of his supporters and took his toys elsewhere. Scully looked triumphant, but then came the realisation that he didn't know what the technology industry was really about. He ran the company into the ground with politics, the infamous PowerPC fiasco and many other cases.

Jobs triumphed in the long run and was hired back to save the company from itself. But the conflict crippled Apple at a time when it could have really stuffed Microsoft, and the effects linger on today.

Shaun Nichols: Scully was brought in to Apple because he was a businessman rather than a computer geek. Unfortunately the man's best selling point for getting the job was also his greatest weakness once he got in there. Scully ran Apple like a soft drinks company, opting to get rid of troublesome executive Steve Jobs in favour of peace and continuity. This works well when you're in a business where the product hasn't changed in 50 years.

Unfortunately, Apple is a computer company. And running a company in the computer business means constantly being aware of changes and having a vision of what new products the company will be releasing 10 years down the line.

Not surprisingly, 10 years after Jobs left things hit rock bottom. Scully was able to keep things going well at Apple for the first few years after Jobs's departure, but as the 1990s dragged on it became painfully obvious that Apple was lacking in vision and focus, releasing a scattered line of machines that gained little ground with each release.

When Jobs finally returned, his first moves were to dramatically reduce the number of machines Apple built and radically overhaul the ones that the company was still producing. All that did was create the iMac, arguably the company's most important product ever.

6. SCO versus Novell and IBM
Shaun Nichols: This is one of our favourite stories in the annals of IT history. Software vendor SCO, under chief executive Darl McBride, decided to sue both Novell and IBM over a series of patents.

Though this normally would have been settled quietly and produce nothing more than a footnote in the news sites, the story became a big deal because the patents in question were key components of Unix and its open-source variants. In other words, SCO was suing for exclusive rights to enterprise Linux.

Fortunately for the rest of the industry, the effort was not successful and SCO eventually found itself facing bankruptcy. In the meantime, McBride and his company became one of the most hated figures in the technology world this side of Redmond, WA.

Iain Thomson: Sure, it's one of our favourite topics but it's like a road accident or Glenn Beck of Fox News: you can't help but look at the disaster.

I've explained my feelings about SCO in the past and see no reason to change them. SCO thought it could use the US patent system to get a free ride off Linux. It failed, and with any luck will be consigned to the dustbin of history.

It's an interesting example of punching above your weight. Despite my cynicism over the legal industry in this country, the SCO case does highlight that no matter what your funding you can't buck the facts – unless you're OJ that is.

5. IBM versus the regulators
Iain Thomson: In the early computer industry the phrase 'No-one ever got fired for buying IBM' was commonplace. IBM dominated the computer industry for the first 20 years of its life.

It built computers that aided the Holocaust for Nazi Germany but, when the US belatedly entered the Second World War, it turned its efforts to the sides of the democracies and built an admiral reputation while refusing to take more than one per cent profit from war work.

But it owned certain patents that held the rest of the industry back. The ground-breaking case of Honeywell v. Sperry Rand spelled IBM's loss of control of the industry, invalidating patents that the company and its proxies had used to exercise a deadening control over the computer market.

The resultant boom in computing technology sprung from this verdict. Less than five years later the first personal computer came out, and the rest is history.

Shaun Nichols: Many in the business world like to say that regulation harms innovation, that when an industry is controlled by the government nobody wants to do anything new. In the case of IBM, however, a solid argument was made for the ways in which government intervention can spark growth within the industry.

This becomes even more important when you take into account IBM's opinions on the market at the time. The company was a firm believer in the idea of a single, centralised computer system, and had little interest personal workstations. Even when PC technology did become viable, years later, there's some doubt that IBM would want to enter a market with such low margins.

By breaking up IBM's operation and freeing these patents, the US government helped to prepare the market for the computing booms that would take place in the 1970s and 1980s. It also helped to set a precedent for future anti-trust cases in the IT world, such as those against AT&T and Microsoft.

4. Salesforce versus Siebel
Shaun Nichols: In 1999 a company called Salesforce.com went live with a web-based customer relationship management tool that ran through the web browser. The new service allowed smaller companies to purchase the product one user at a time, and pay a monthly subscription rather than buy the entire package upfront.

Siebel Systems laughed off the plucky startup. After all, Siebel sold its product in huge deployments that cost tens of thousands of dollars. The company's clients were large enterprises that weren't likely to switch any time soon.

Dismissing the idea turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes by a software vendor in recent memory. The software-as-a-service and individual subscription models proved to be a huge success, and Siebel soon saw its market shrinking as Salesforce moved into the larger enterprise sector.

Too small to take on market leader SAP and too rigid and inflexible to ward off Salesforce, Siebel was eventually bought by Oracle as its once tiny rival gained huge chunks in the market.

Iain Thomson: Salesforce.com is a great example of two things: someone having a good idea and the rest of the market being too stupid to realise this.

Salesforce took the industry on with one of the first SaaS servings and wiped the floor with the competition. You can almost see the look of shock on the faces of Siebel executives as they sat down to another executive lunch and found the market had been stolen out from under them. It's the kind of shock the US Republicans got last year.

But this wasn't really a fight, it was more of a French army circa 1940 situation. The established vendors didn't really understand the competing technology and before they knew it they'd been blitzkrieged into submission. Without wishing to induce Godwin's Law, Salesforce now has all the Lebensraum it desires.

3. Commodore versus everyone else
Iain Thomson: Commodore was born from a combative past. It was originally a calculator company but was forced out of the market by Texas Instruments which started selling calculators at less than the cost of production to win market share.

This was one of the factors that led Commodore into the personal computer market, and also (I suspect) a major factor in it nearly destroying it.

The company's PET and VIC-20 broke records in personal computer take-up and the Commodore 64 was a masterpiece of engineering. I remember using one in 1991 and being amazed how this 'old' computer could handle such great graphics and processing. It really was ahead of its time.

But then the urge to dominate seized the Commodore board. The company had a commanding position in the industry but Apple and then IBM came into the PC market and the Commodore management decided on a scorched earth strategy.

Commodore would take on every other vendor, drive them out of business and reap the profits – possibly building a fortress in an abandoned volcano staffed by attractive female guards in tight uniforms - from the huge profits that were sure to come.

At first the strategy of slashing prices appeared to work. Texas Instruments was driven out of the market, Atari was crippled and a whole generation of programmers found themselves out of a job. The computing industry faced its first ever recession, and Commodore was to blame.

But it was a Pyrrhic victory. Commodore destroyed the village in order to save it and reaped the whirlwind. The company is now an also-ran in computing history and will soon be forgotten.

Shaun Nichols: Today, many gamers and PC enthusiasts regard Commodore with an attitude of nostalgia and retro cool. The Commodore 64 has a soft spot in the hearts of many for the role it played in the home computing and gaming market of the 1980s. If they were to delve a little deeper into Commodore's actions in those years, however, those same users may become quite angry with the company.

As the advent of video gaming began to push computers into the home in the early 1980s, a bevy of new companies was founded to produce the hardware and software for low-cost home systems. Some were better than others, but it cannot be disputed that the market was quite competitive and receptive to innovation.

Commodore founder and president Jack Tramiel did not like the idea of having to share the market with so many other firms, so he decided to price his competitors out of business and absorb a near-term loss for long-term gains in market share. It was a war of attrition that Commodore would ultimately win, though at a crippling cost to the company.

Home video game companies were almost entirely wiped out, and by time the crash had subsided, the cash-strapped Commodore was too weak to take advantage of the market. Windows and Macintosh PCs drove the company out of the computer market, while a home gaming device from a Japanese firm named Nintendo took care of the console market.

2. Intel versus AMD
Iain Thomson: I'm going to have to be very careful what I write here because there is an ongoing anti-competition case going on in the EU and US at the moment on just this issue.

Intel was the first modern chip company. Born out of an alliance of interested parties at Fairchild Semiconductors, Intel has gone on to be the biggest chip company in the world and has an annual turnover larger than several small countries.

AMD was also started by refugees from Fairchild and initially worked quite well with Intel. Indeed, it could be said that Intel's success with IBM was due to competition with AMD, since IBM was required to have two chip suppliers.

But then in 1986 Intel started to play rough and cut off support for AMD by denying it access to the chip designs it needed. After eight years in the courts Intel had to pay damages, but the ill feeling persists to this day. Intel has fired more legal challenges at AMD, most of which have been beaten off at huge expense. Now AMD is fighting back.

AMD has been preparing its revenge and has a compelling case; the company has been significantly ahead of Intel in the technology sphere for some time, yet this hasn't translated into orders. AMD, by all accounts, alleges that this is because Intel has had agreements with OEMs to ignore AMD's processors in favour of Intel's, in return for large discounts on volume chip supplies.

It's up to the courts to see whether these claims are true. What is clear is that the EU and the US, as well as Japan and Korea, are taking this seriously and in some cases have come down on AMD's side.

The current round of investigations will take years to complete and, if Microsoft's experience with the EU is anything to go by, will take years more of appeals, and the resultant fines won't hurt too much, since that would stifle the 'free market'.

Shaun Nichols: Depending on who you ask, the spat between Intel and AMD these days is either the result of dirty tricks or sour grapes. AMD claims that Intel bribed and threatened PC and server vendors to go with its own chips, while Intel claims that AMD is just upset because it simply could not keep up in key areas of processor development.

Regardless of the claims being made today, the war between Intel and AMD paid huge dividends to consumers. When Intel saw its development stall, AMD was there to take advantage and the market responded. This in turn pushed Intel to step up its own game. Over the past two decades, both companies have been playing what some analysts liken to a game of leapfrog in which each company briefly jumps ahead of its rival.

These days Intel is ahead in the market and AMD is still dogged by financial problems. Hopefully the company can recover, because the back-and-forth between the two sides has been a boon to the rest of the industry.

1. Microsoft versus Netscape
Shaun Nichols: Perhaps the most influential event of the past decade was Microsoft's landmark anti-trust case. Fallout from the case shook the entire market and forced the largest software vendor in the world to radically alter its approach to the market. And it all started with one showdown.

In the late 1990s the internet was coming of age. As users ventured out of the walled-garden ISP experience and into the larger internet, the web browser market boomed and Netscape was the reigning king.

Seeing this boom in browsing, Microsoft wanted some of the pie. Having already accumulated a dominant position in the operating system world and a huge software applications outfit, Microsoft decided that, rather than compete head-to-head, it would simply leverage Windows.

While Netscape was a paid-for application that had to purchased in a store or downloaded online, Microsoft decided to bundle its Internet Explorer application as a free component of Windows. Not only did users not have to obtain and install a separate browser, they could get it for free.

As one would expect, users flocked to Internet Explorer and Netscape was devastated. The company soon had to shut down, but not before filing what would become a landmark lawsuit. As the case dragged on, authorities realised that Microsoft was using the dominance of Windows to muscle other companies out of the market.

Netscape may not have won the browser war, but it planted the seed that led to disaster for its rival. Ironically, Microsoft later found itself battling for browser supremacy when the remnants of Netscape Navigator were turned over to the open-source world and used as the foundation for Mozilla's Firefox.

Iain Thomson: I think you're overestimating Microsoft here Shaun. Bill Gates wrote off the internet in 1993 as the computer equivalent of CB radio, then tried to catch up fast.

In doing so I think Gates panicked. He saw he'd missed the boat on the biggest thing in computing so used Internet Explorer to do over Netscape and try and lock everyone using Windows into using IE.

Once Microsoft dominated the browser market, development stopped until Mozilla used the Netscape engine to build a better browser and Microsoft was forced to play catchup again. We lost nearly a decade of browser development because Redmond got its monopoly.

Ultimately Microsoft paid heavily for the price of winning the browser wars. While getting off lightly in the US under Bush's regime the EU stepped up and did its job. Microsoft is still paying the price for its actions, and it owes us.

参考文献编辑本段回目录

http://tech.sina.com.cn/it/2009-09-07/14533416251.shtml
http://www.v3.co.uk/articles/print/2248975

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