Continuing Comments: The beginning of the end of modularity?

21 05 2009

(4) Or at least the end of a layered IT industry. From the Economist’s story on Oracle’s purchase of Sun:  “Since the early 1990s the industry has resembled a cake made of horizontal layers of technology, with each layer dominated by a few companies… This structure is now collapsing as the industry’s heavyweights move into each other’s layers.”
Pierre de Vries

(5) Pierre,

Please, read our discussion of systems integration models!

Peter Cowhey

(6) If I understand your argument, it is that players will offer integration of the deltas away from their core offerings as a way of undermining competitors.
A key assumption is that they will all succeed in holding on to their core businesses.  If that assumption holds, there will indeed be more competition than before. For example, in your discussion the unspoken assumption is that Google, Microsoft and IBM have unassailable beach heads in cloud search, the desktop, and mainframes, respectively. But if one or more of the beach heads isn’t secure, the competition you promise will dwindle in the face of the successful integrator.


(7) The  argument is as follows:
1. traditional ICT layer cake and winner take all dynamics at individual layer of the stack characterize ICT landscape.
2. modularity breaks this down to some degree – enables competitors from neighboring stacks to enter new layers. for example – possible to enter productivity software suite – which is adjacent to the desktop – in a way today that simply wasn’t possible 5 years ago.
3. this means that incumbent ICT firms with leadership positions in a given stack (a) face greater challenges than ever before and (b) have greater incentives and abilities to move to neighboring layers.
4. hence we see what we see in terms of large, established incumbents with leadership positions in one layer of the traditional layer cake looking for growth via entry into neighboring/new layers of the proverbial stack.

John Richards



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