Failing Vision

2 Feb, 2006 | BusinessTdpScience And Technology

I go through phases of reading Paul Scrivens' sites (I like them but as with anything, I read faster than he writes), recently I was reading some stuff on Whitespace, Scrivs' first site (I think), he now has so many he could branch off and form his own internet. The post was titled 5 Companies That Will Fail This Year. Slightly misleading perhaps, it was about five of the biggest technology companies and how they will fail to make siginificant advances in their key target areas.

The five companies he mentions are: Microsoft, Creative, Google, SixApart and newspapers. Okay, so the last isn't a company in itself, more a media format.

Regarding Microsoft, he mainly thinks that their upcoming Windows Vista OS will not prove a significant advance and not steal any thunder away from Apple's OS X. Maybe that's true, Microsoft have been forced to water down (or completely remove) many of their more advanced features. I've seen a couple of funny examples recently about how Microsoft's 'landmark' features are already there and working in OS X. I don't think that's it though, MS will have some other tricks to fanfare come release, so don't count them out yet. They are still by far the most widely used OS maker in the world, with OS X not making a dent in their 90% dominance and, last but not least, OS X is far from perfect. I find its usability frustrating at times, and there doesn't seem to be the flexibility that even XP provides to allow me to interact the way I want to. No, Microsoft will only have a bad year if they don't ship Vista on time or if they rush it. If Apple intend OS X to be a direct (on indirect) competitor, that's a long way off.

I kind of agree with his assessment of Creative. As a company I think they'll continue to do well, but no one seems to have the marketing to defeat the iPod, hell, it's becoming a generic term to replace MP3 players. Many people refer to any device that plays MP3s as an iPod because even their gannies will understand what they're on about. Although, the creative player is supposed to be a better product and for those people, like me, who hate following the crowd, it might appeal. I think they'd better invest in some seriously heavy PR work; adverts everywhere, commercials in your face, stunts, giveaways, the whole nine yards.

Do Google fail at anything? Not so far. Video is their new venture and as I've been reading on Cringley's site, they've certainly got the technology. The question is whether they can survive against Apple's marketing. Mind you, I think there's room for two and Google are happy to give it away short term if needs must, Apple don't like giving anything away. This is going to depend on who has the media to back it up and Apple, with Steve Jobs now a director at Disney, certainly looks to have the right contacts. The question is if Google can woo everyone else.

Then there's SixApart. I'm with him on this one. For those who don't know, SixApart produce blogging software called MoveableType, and also own LiveJournal, which is a free-to-use blogging service. When I started blogging everyone was talking about MoveableType, but as WordPress has grown in stature more and more people seem to be migrating away from it. I chose WordPress because it's built using PHP, which I knew a bit of, uses a database to store data and displays it dynamically. MoveableType uses Perl and, at the time, only allowed static pages (now it does dynamic pages too, apparently), which meant rebuilding your entire site each time you posted. Anyway, I just don't see them going anywhere, there are too many high quality, completely free alternatives, how can any price compete with free? I just can't see where they can go from here, they could sell the hosted services as an easy to use, never going to disappear service, but that only appeals to a limited market.

Lastly, the fate of newspapers. Scrivs says that Craig's List is stealing customers, as is Newsvine. Maybe that's true, but they won't be going anywhere anytime soon. Portability, flexibility, content and quality mean newspapers still rule the roost for written news delivery. Not to mention a lifetime of experience and excellent knowledge of their markets. Nobody talks of relaxing on a Sunday morning reading their laptops do they?

Looking back, I guess I agree with about 50% of what Scrivs says, but as far as Microsoft, Google and newspapers go, I think he's got it wrong. Time will tell.