The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, December 09, 2002

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY IN ACTION: MICROSOFT
So much has happened over the past half-decade with Bill Gates' baby that it's probably impossible to find an utterly objective viewpoint on it. Even Microsoft supporters now tacitly accept that the company behaves in a monopolistic fashion, whether purposefully or not.

The folks at Harvard Business School have decided to take another approach toward Redmond. Putting aside the issues of market share and business practices, it examined Microsoft's propensity for designing product (software) that addresses several layers of the end-user market: developers, consumers, etc. In this way, it found that the company has built itself up to its dominant position through a combination of flexible strategies, centered around skillful development and use of its intellectual property.

I think in some ways, the examination is a bit too academic; putting Microsoft's evolution into a vacuum and ignoring three decades of trends in the computer industry that shaped thousands of companies, including Microsoft, doesn't give you a complete picture. But I do think they've hit on something, and it's a fascinating perspective.