January 14, 2009
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Monopolies and quality
A lot of the time I blog about how to write software better: how to increase quality and decrease costs by doing "good engineering" like unit tests, CI, deliver early, etc. Those were all "how's", but I never talked about the "why's". What's the motivating factor for doing things better?
When you get right down to it, people strive for "better" because if you don't, someone else will do it better and all your customers will get up and leave. But what happens when your customers can't leave? When you've got a monopoly all that business side motivation goes away and the goals of the business change. You're no longer trying to do better to protect from competition, but you're actually trying to figure out how to charge the customer the most money without them just giving up. The only conclusion that I can come to is, no matter what business you're in, is the obvious "monopolies are bad". Clichés sucks.
Posted by jim at January 14, 2009 04:49 PM
The prime example I like to use to demonstrate this is Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer 6 sat untouched for a very long time, without any updates. IE6 was released in 2001, and IE7 wasn't released until 5 years later in 2006. It was not standards compliant. It was insecure. It was behind the times. Then Firefox started to attract a lot of users. Only after Firefox had already won over a significant percentage of the mindshare did MS actually start to do something to stop them. They made some serious headway with IE 7, and are making even more headway with IE8. Still they have quite a bit of catch-up to do, simply from doing nothing for so many years. And with Firefox, and other browsers continuing to improve at a very high rate, one wonders, when, if ever IE will be able to catch the competition.
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