Microsoft versus Google: “It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again”

Disruptive innovation, as originally coined by Clayton Christensen, describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves ‘up market,’ eventually displacing established competitors.  Google is a classic distruptor, helping, along with Apple Computer, usher in a whole new computing paradigm.  Microsoft has become the third wheel in this equation, being late to the internet party, attempting to make  a late entry into the smart phone OS market, and, now, entering late in the search engine market.

Today, Microsoft asked European regulators to go after Google on the grounds that Google is trying to “entrench its dominance” on the Web.  Google’s anti-trust issues spokesman, Adam Kovacevich, said, “We try to create lots of new technologies for consumers …The companies and industries that we disrupt sometimes try to seek recourse in Washington.  In particular, Microsoft, and our large competitors, have invested a lot …to stoke scrutiny of us.” 

Innovation is fluid, and companies such as Google, Amazon, and Apple have invested a lot to create cultures that foster continuous innovation.  It is hard to comprehend why it would be a good thing to set up arbitrary road-blocks to allow companies, who rest on their laurels and have stopped innovating, to try to catch up to the leaders.  Anti-trust laws exist for a purpose, but it is hard to feel sorry for Microsoft, who, itself, has been the subject of anti-trust practices for many years.  As the late Yogi Berra said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

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