p2pnet view P2P:- Bluster and threat are essential tools of business, says Jonathan Schwartz, former CEO of Sun Microsystems.
In 2003, “after I unveiled a prototype Linux desktop called Project Looking Glass, Steve called my office to let me know the graphical effects were “stepping all over Apple’s IP”, says Schwartz, going on >>>
If we moved forward to commercialize it, “I’ll just sue you.
My response was simple. “Steve, I was just watching your last presentation, and Keynote looks identical to Concurrence – do you own that IP?” Concurrence was a presentation product built by Lighthouse Design, a company I’d help to found and which Sun acquired in 1996. Lighthouse built applications for NeXTSTEP, the Unix based operating system whose core would become the foundation for all Mac products after Apple acquired NeXT in 1996. Steve had used Concurrence for years, and as Apple built their own presentation tool, it was obvious where they’d found inspiration. “And last I checked, MacOS is now built on Unix. I think Sun has a few OS patents, too.” Steve was silent.
And that was the last I heard on the topic. Although we ended up abandoning Looking Glass, Steve’s threat didn’t figure into our decision (the last thing enterprises wanted was a new desktop – in hindsight, exactly the wrong audience to poll (we should’ve been asking developers, not CIO’s)).
As in life, says Schwartz, “bluster and threat are commonplace in business – especially the technology business”, continuing:
” So that interaction was good preparation for a later meeting with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. They’d flown in over a weekend to meet with Scott McNealy, Sun’s then CEO – who asked me and Greg Papadopoulos (Sun’s CTO) to accompany him. As we sat down in our Menlo Park conference room, Bill skipped the small talk, and went straight to the point, ‘Microsoft owns the office productivity market, and our patents read all over OpenOffice.’ OpenOffice is a free office productivity suite found on tens of millions of desktops worldwide. It’s a tremendous brand ambassador for its owner – it also limits the appeal of Microsoft Office to businesses and those forced to pirate it. Bill was delivering a slightly more sophisticated variant of the threat Steve had made, but he had a different solution in mind. ‘We’re happy to get you under license.’ That was code for ‘We’ll go away if you pay us a royalty for every download’ – the digital version of a protection racket.
“But fearing this was on the agenda, we were prepared for the meeting. Microsoft is no stranger to imitating successful products, then leveraging their distribution power to eliminate a competitive threat – from tablet computing to search engines, their inspiration is often obvious (I’m trying to like Bing, I really am). So when they created their web application platform, .NET, it was obvious their designers had been staring at Java – which was exactly my retort. ‘We’ve looked at .NET, and you’re trampling all over a huge number of Java patents. So what will you pay us for every copy of Windows?’ Bill explained the software business was all about building variable revenue streams from a fixed engineering cost base, so royalties didn’t fit with their model … which is to say, it was a short meeting.”
With the above, and the rest of the post, in mind, Schwartz “has already hinted at plans to write a book”, says Slashdot.
Should be interesting.
..… and identi.ca
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi
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