I just finished reading an article entitled, No, we don't really need another smartphone OS. The author argues that the three big platforms, IOS, Android, and Windows are basically enough, stating that, "The mobile landscape consolidated for a number of reasons, one being that not enough customers supported each OS to keep its development well-funded." That may be true, but...
The very reason we have the phone technology we have today is because of the competition. Competition is the belief that you can build a better mouse trap in the hopes of making money, thus improving the world. As we all know, one size does not fit all. As I detailed in an earlier article, choices and options are the driving factors behind my purchases (and I'm sure I'm not alone). In fact, if the Android OS did not exist, I would not be able to do half of the things I currently use it for on a daily basis. The iphone and Windows phone specifically restrict me from operations I can currently do with my Android. (Thank you, Google.)
The Browser War
Let's convert the phone OS war to the browser war. Now, if you're as geeky as I am, you probably do not use IE. You're most likely using Chrome or Firefox, Why? Because for you, they're simply better, regardless of your individual reasons. Both Chrome and Firefox have options that IE does not. Should we limit the number of browsers to three? Hardly.
Obviously, a lack of money and desire will kill the small players in competitive arenas, in most cases. And that's fine. But sooner or later, one of the little guys will have a big voice, and that's a fact. Mozilla Firefox began as an open source project, and just look at Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. They were nobodys at some point.
In fact, I thought I was innovative by creating my own Windows based browser, Bluto. It has features that are important to me, and hopefully a few others. Had it taken off, I could have been the next big thing. As it turns out, Bluto falls in that slim column to the right entitled, Other. (Oh well.) Look at the chart below and notice how the browser market share has gradually shifted over time:
As with any free market, the best will rise to the top and the poorest will sink to the bottom. Based on this chart, IE is the "best," but losing ground. Firefox has remained stable while Chrome continues to gain traction. The point is simple: Competition drives innovation. It is true that after the dust settles, only a few browsers, and phone operating systems, will survive. But they will have gotten better because someone else pushed back. If there were no competition, there would be no reason to improve and we would be stuck with ye old StarTac phone and the AOL browser. Yikes!
Even if the outsider doesn't make it big, his ideas might. For example, my browser may have a feature that the marketing people over at Microsoft may like and they may incorporate it into a future release. Hence, a poor performing product may begin to grow again and the world is that much better off.
The Network Monitoring War
SolarWinds is no slouch when it comes to competition. As a matter of fact, we were Forbes' number one small business in America for 2012! We examine our competition to see what they're doing wrong, and what they're doing right. We also engage our customers on a personal level, as I expressed in this article, so we can improve products like SAM and NPM, among others.
The Lesson I Learned
"Those who fear competition are those who cannot compete." - Bronx