THE WARPED PERSPECTIVE
once said that bad publicity was better than no publicity at all. However, what
happens when you can't even get bad publicity?
The OS/2 community has been waiting patiently for the release of a "new OS/2"
from a small company which recently licensed OS/2 from IBM for development purposes.
That's right, a third-party developer of e-commerce solutions, Serenity Systems
is actually working on delivering a new version of OS/2 to the world. This is a
case of what Oracle CEO Larry Ellison calls "coopetition" -- the idea
that several companies can work together on a common project while still competing
for capital, customers, and mindshare.
This notion of coopetition really is not so strange. In politics, nations join in
military or geopolitical alliances while continuing to spy on one another. They
exchange data on common perceived threats while refusing to exchange commercial
data or weapons secrets. In music, bands who are competing for the same listening
audience will often tour together. And some musicians will even collaborate on songs
or albums while maintaining competitive market positions through separate agents
and different distribution companies.
Even in the operating system world, this notion is not new. A few years ago, Apple
licensed the Mac OS to several competing hardware makers in order to generate a
"clone market" similar to the highly successful, constantly expanding
market for cut-rate Intel-compatible PC hardware. By providing a lower entry-cost
to new computer users (as well as longtime PC users desperate to escape the Windows
monopoly without massive transition costs), Apple was beginning to grow the market
share for the Mac OS. The problem with this approach was that Apple was simultaneously
losing market share for its own hardware. Without a "critical mass" of
new Mac OS licensees, the move was not profitable and was therefore discontinued.
However, the situation with Serenity and IBM is much different because unlike Apple,
IBM's main target market consists of giant megacorps that spend tens of billions
of dollars each year on computers and related products and services. Serenity can
safely target the low-to-midrange business market without too much "bumping
heads" with IBM. This means that there is a good chance that this market-growth
strategy can succeed in spreading OS/2 to more markets beyond the Global 2000 major
corporations where it has long been a stalwart. This is good for IBM (more licenses
means more dollars). This is good for computer users (more choices means an increased
incentive for quality and openness). And of course it is good for current OS/2 users
(more fellow users means more stability for application developers and solution
But where is the PC industry media? Are they fast asleep, or partying somewhere
west of Spokane and north of Portland?
Imagine if Novell had begun licensing Netware or NDS to small companies to produce
their own "distros" of these products. Or suppose Apple decided to resurrect
their clone strategy. Better yet, imagine if BeOS or some other PC-compatible OS
was being licensed to small companies to jump-start the moribund OS marketplace.
Wouldn't we see more than a few headlines about this novel approach? Wouldn't commentators
salivate at the thought of Bill Gates quaking in fear, or laughing maniacally as
he crushed yet another innovative risk-taker?
Either of these viewpoints would be worthy of some ink. But the PC media does not
seem to be interested in providing coverage of anything warp-worthy. It seems strange
that not even a whimper of disdain, of contempt, or of head-wagging disgust has
been found in the "mainstream" computer press on this topic. Strange....
unless you know the details of the PC media's love/hate relationship with OS/2 reporting.
Or has Microsoft paid for yet another round of silence, the way they paid for the
appearance of grass-roots support a few years ago? That question itself would make
a good story. Where are the sentinels of the free press when we need them?
Most recent revision: May 28, 2001
Copyright © 2001, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.