Tuesday, March 05, 2002

Build Systems, Not Companies, on Open Standards

This article makes the point that while open standards are essential to create industries and markets, and it makes sense to build products on open standards, it's usually a bad idea to base a company's business model on open standards.

"Think ASCII and TCP/IP. Think Web browsers and servers. Think SQL and ODBC. All revolutionary once upon a time, all beneath notice today. No sane business would position around any of them. Yet that is precisely what many of today's Java-centric and XML-centric vendors are busily doing... The problem with basing business strategy on open standards is that, like a fire stoked with home furnishings, it eventually leaves everyone homeless ... In the long run, when the dust settles and everyone is in agreement, open standards offer no differentiation and erode competitive advantage along the axis that has been standardized. Survivors are forced to rethink their strategies and offer value in wholly new ways ..."