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Re: The Story of Proprietary Soap

  • Subject: Re: The Story of Proprietary Soap
  • From: Mark Kent <mark.kent@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2006 07:31:28 +0100
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • References: <30160861.Cl1A6FkXH3@schestowitz.com> <slrne4pfk2.s2e.sorceror@localhost.localdomain>
  • User-agent: slrn/ (Linux)
  • Xref: news.mcc.ac.uk comp.os.linux.advocacy:1104032
begin  oe_protect.scr 
Ray Ingles <sorceror@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> espoused:
> On 2006-04-23, Roy Schestowitz <newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>> ,----[ Quote
>>| What's the lesson here? Products that require proprietary refills
>>| will inevitably become useless, probably much sooner than you think.
>> `----
>  Exactly, open standards are in the best interest of the consumer.
> Vendors don't like them because they force competition on price and
> quality, but there you go.
>  (An unrelated aside: something I've never seen predicted in any science
> fiction story is the phenomenon of new technology coming out before the
> old one is even fully deployed, much less obsoleted. Bathrooms are a
> prime example of this.

Permit me to tell you about the 3 technology problem. 3tech is the
principle that you *always* have (at least) 3 technologies on the go at
one time.  You have:

1) the old, obsolete, but not yet fully removed or replaced technology.   

2) the current, established technology, replacing the obsolete one

New wave:
3) the new, upcoming technology which is perhaps piloting or at the
start of its deployment curve.


You can draw this as a series of overlapping regions over time, but I
find the overlaps need to be exponential rather than linear in order to
more realistically represent what happens.

3tech is the normal business/engineering state, and there're loads
of examples, like, for example to power ships, oars/sail/coal,
sail/coal/oil, coal/oil/nuclear and so on.  Electronics devices -
valve/germanium/gaas, germanium/gaas/silicon, etc.

>  When you walk into a public restroom you haven't been to before, you
> have very little idea what technology you'll be using, for any part of
> the process. Flushing might be on a timer, or a manual switch, or an IR
> sensor. The faucet may have multiple handles, one handle, or no handles;
> same for the soap - if it's not a bar. You might dry your hands with
> cloth, paper, or air; any of these might be dispensed by lever, crank,
> button, IR sensor, or something else.)

Interesting to note that in your example, there are typically 3 possible
technologies - 3tech in action!

Where 3tech can be thrown off course, and in reality, probably the /only/
way of doing so, is a disruptive tech comes along.  This is a technology
which doesn't follow the natural development cycle, but changes the
landscape in such a way that an alternative approach to the problem can
be used instead.  According to the accepted definition, it needs to be
1/2 as good as the existing technology, and 10% of the price.

When 3tech is hit by something disruptive, we get the strange situation of
our normal 3 technologies mixed up with a huge range of new approaches,
all vying for acceptance.  This creates marketplace confusion, and
causes considerable problems for businesses which are dependent on the
technology area, as they might have expensive deployment choices to make,
but not be sure as to /how/ to do risk assessment.

3tech can also be thrown off course by other kinds of manipulation.  For
example, vendor lock-in presents an exit-barrier to a technology
specifically design to be so high as to prevent a migration off the
current technology.  It's also probably the only defence for an
incumbent provider against disruptive technologies, as even with a zero
cost, a high enough exit barrier can be used to limit migration.  The
current best examplar for this would be Microsoft in their fight against
the highly disruptive open source.  That said, Microsoft were
guaranteed, sooner or later, to have this problem, as they tried very
hard indeed to /stop/ 3tech.  This cannot be done.

Some economists and philosophers might argue that disruptive technology
is a natural and unavoidable result of provider businesses attempting to
elongate the period of an established technology by raising exit
barriers to prevent adoption of the new wave.  As newer technologies
come along, they will inevitably bring economic benefit which, in the
logner run, cannot be ignored.  One could well argue that the success of
Linux and Open Source is a direct result of the actions of Microsoft in
attempting to prolong the Established technology (Windows) well beyond
its useful life, which means that the open source proposition over time
becomes increasingly compelling.  This causes the entry barrier to the
new wave to fall lower and lower, even as the exit barrier to the
established tech rises.  

This has caused the business world to look not at the exit barrier itself,
but at the /causes/ of the exit barrier to Windows, the established
technology.  CIOs and CTOs, programmers, middle managers, procurement
specialists and industry commentators are all now more focussed on
Microsoft's business methods, not just current, but historical ones,
than they are on the actual costs of Windows, the established tech,
or even on the capabilities of Windows.  Amongst other things, this
is promoting governments to look at two courses.  Firstly, to take
legal action against the *lock-in* of Microsoft (the tech is no longer
the issue), and secondly, to mandate for themselves, as governments,
a move to the new wave, now the disruptive wave, thus forcing down the
exit barrier from the existing tech for organisations which work with
the government (very few don't, at some point!).

Anyway, the point I was driving at is that this is an economics issue as
much as a technology one!

| Mark Kent   --   mark at ellandroad dot demon dot co dot uk  |
Courage is your greatest present need.

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