IBM, Apple & Silicon Valley Are Impatient. (The Om Says Mailbag)


I sent out only two Om Says newsletters this week, mostly because of time commitments behind the scenes. More importantly, I’ve been gestating some ideas for the coming week. In addition, a bulk of time was spent conversing with folks who have been kind enough to share their feedback and comments with me via emails and private conversations.

To recap, this past week, I sent out the following two newsletters and they sparked a great deal of discussion in comments and on Twitter:

  • The economics of attention and why there are no second chances on the Internet. (Read)
  • When is a tech company dead? (Read)

However, some of the more detailed responses came via email, and I’m sharing edited-down versions of some of them.

Vijay Sundram in response to The economics of attention

One thought is about the equation :) I would actually refine it say that MVP = f(happiness, utility), which you could think of as an indifference curve above which early traction is outcome. Depending on the market and customers, I think you can get away with more of one and less of the other. I’d argue there’s even a more general pattern, which is that in the earlier stages of a market (e.g. early PC and Internet era) technical innovation, prices, performance, etc. drive adoption, and therefore there is a bias towards “utility”. As these markets mature, the raw technology becomes commoditized and the competitive landscape is crowded so branding, design/UX, and attention are the core drivers of traction and so the bias tilts towards “happiness”.

Martin Joseph Brej in response to When is a tech company dead?:

Agree that Oracle (s ORCL) and IBM (s IBM) are outliers—and both share similar strategic alignments:  while people often mention services when describing IBM’s business, I would point out that increasingly IBM is software-driven.  Services drive a lot of revenue, but software drives most of the profitability @ IBM.  Furthermore, IBM also has an established and successful strategy to grow via acquisitions—generally not of the size that Oracle has, but still a fundamental strategy by which IBM reinvents (or ‘reboots’) itself.

Kurt Collins in response to When is a tech company dead?

I don’t believe either Yahoo, Microsoft, or Nokia is dead. I understand the point you’re trying to make, however, there’s one example of a company that everyone thought was dead at one point: Apple. There are exceptions to every rule, and Apple may be one huge exception.

However, my point is more about the intellectual energy you were speaking of. Just because intellectual energy may be missing from the current employees at a company; but that doesn’t mean that same company doesn’t have a chance.

I think Silicon Valley is impatient. We dream about the future and we can’t wait to make it happen, so we’re often quick to dismiss the present. Tech companies may “die”, but every company has a chance; even the “dead” ones.


Jebb Dykstra

I see nothing wrong with Silicon Valley being impatient. That’s an expectation that everyone has come to accept. If I still owned (and like most everybody I used to own) MSFT stock, I would be sad and sighing like Robert Scoble. MSFT does not excite employees or shareholders anymore. No shaking, rattling or rolling over at MSFT anymore. But good ol’ Apple does excite them. Google, FB and even Twitter excite their respective Shareholder Investors. Even IBM and Oracle make their shareholders quite happy quarter over quarter. IBM even went so far publicly to state that their EPS will be north of $20 / share by 2015. As stated above IBM and Oracel are outliers. More so, IBM is buying as many co’s as Google. Oracle buys big company’s. They are not stale (aka dead) like MSFT. So this is not about old co’s vs. new co’s. This is about stale vs dynamic. MSFT is failing that test and it doesn’t have to be that way. But never forget the scorekeeper (shareholders and investors) are impatient.


@Om: Joe05 summarized quite succinctly, but it’s something tech media and valley folks tend to dismiss as your response correctly proves.

Joe doesn’t say Microsoft doesn’t have problems – but these do get amplified to a much greater degree than any issues with Valley darlings Google and Apple. Similarly, as Joe states, there’s a clear and visible obsession with reporting even the most insignificant news from Apple and Google in a positive light.

We could debate ad nauseam. You could continue to focus on “Microsoft has problems”, and completely ignore the underlying issue Joe raises. The valley has its bias, it is for most part blatantly anti-Microsoft, frequently without reason or correlation to the present world order where Microsoft doesn’t hold the same sway (or attitude) it once did.


I find a lot of the views out of Silicon humourus, by most accounts to the rest of the real world companies like Microsft are judged by their growth and profits, debt and income.

By all accounts Microsft is a very healthy company which continues to grow in the enterprise as well as having a successful well received product like Windows 7, a growing and comprehensive cloud strategy and a healthy and well funded R&D budget and the means to do so.
What I do see is a clearly negative biased view when it comes to companies such as Microsoft or IBM/ Oracle, and an obsession with reporting even the most insignificant news from companies like Apple or Google in a positive light.

I can undrstand some of this, it’s much easier to understand an iPhone than the the details of Windows Server/ Azure, and many tech pundits have some to very little understanding enterprise subjects that are the core product of IBM.

I find many start ups ineresting, but successful profitable and interesting don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

Om Malik


I don’t think anyone said that Microsoft’s business is suffering or it isn’t making money. But to say that they haven’t got problems is not right. Here is a piece about Microsoft and its struggles from Fortune.

Thanks for your comment.

Robert Scoble

Joe, then explain to me why Microsoft’s stock price hasn’t moved in years. I know, I own it. I should have sold it years ago. Sigh.

When bloggers say something is “dead” we don’t mean it’s actually dead, just that it’s boring. And, for the most part, both Silicon Valley AND the real world thinks Microsoft is boring.

Comments are closed.