Threat and Alliance

When Silicon Strategies Marketing was busy making SuSE famous, we formed a number of interesting alliances. At the peak of our marketing frenzy we charged IBM, AMD, VMWare and others cash to participate in the SuSE event booth – to co-brand an co-present as shown in this picture from LinuxWorld 2003 (partner co-branding flying over our booth and us holding an audience after the show closed and while exhibit hall crews rolled-up the carpets). Part of the strategy we put in play for SuSE was to communicate one step ahead of Red Hat. While the fedora-toped gang was still droning on about Linux being cheaper, we recruited major infrastructure vendors (hard and soft) to help us talk about integration and strategy planning. Since the market had decided to go with Linux, these talking points were what customers were thinking about – instant alignment. We went out of our way to … Continue reading

Black Java

This year’s JavaOne is a conference stood on its head. A number of elements indicate that Java is thriving, but in odd tangents and with uncertain bearing. I’m sure it was only coincidental that all Sun employees on site were wearing black shirts and near-death experience expressions. Sun staffers looked like people who woke up in a casket at their own funeral. Or in Hell if they believe the rumors about Larry Ellison and his cloven hooves. Exhibit floors are where you find the real pulse of an industry. Forget keynote fairytales which are often more about FUD than fact. When companies drop thousands of dollars on booth space and staff time – when spending shows their intent – that is where you learn how to place your bets in any industry. After touring JavaOne, I’m buying more stock in Apple. No, Apple was not demoing nor did the spirit … Continue reading

Open Assaults

IBM knows how to club competitors. Using Open Source for the betterment of your products is well understood. Using Open Source to grind your competitors face into the dirt is more of an art. Yet when done well it accomplishes the primary objective of competitive marketing – attacking your opponent’s strengths. For technology marketing tyros reading this, understand that attacking your competitors weaknesses is a losing game. Weaknesses are typically marginal worries to consumers. If your competitor’s weakness were serious then they would have never become a competitor. Even if the weaknesses were important, they can be corrected and thus your assaults will be short lived. Attacking their strengths however is to eat their souls. Your competitor’s strengths are what made them successful. Any time you can assault their strengths you attack the very foundation of their prosperity. Successfully making their strength into a weakness will do more harm than … Continue reading

Opening Clouds

Where is your cloud and how do you manage it? I toss that question at an occasional CIO and get borderline lucid answers. Most don’t yet use clouds but lust after them. Others leverage public clouds for non-privileged and mission-uncritical work. A scant few have cobbled together their own private clouds (p-clouds). P-clouds and rentable clouds are as similar to Sherman tanks and kangaroos. The promise of agile clouds is that you would be able to establish your own internal p-cloud and extended it ad hoc to external, rented cloud resources. Currently this requires either a significant amount of home grown engineering or adherence to one or another public clouds tools and management protocols. Either approach is anathema to IT. All radical growth spurts in IT technologies have occurred when open standards were popularized. UNIX killed MPE, VMS and other also-rans. Likewise Linux is slowly killing proprietary UNIX and blocking … Continue reading

The Once and Never King

We are about eight years behind schedule. Around the millennial epoch I helped SuSE whelp the SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED), a product that is till on the Novell price list. Growing frustration with Microsoft viruses, continued vendor lock-in and the inherent lower cost of an Open Source desktop were hailed as the beginning of the end of Microsoft’s dominance. Yeah. I didn’t believe it either. SuSE arguably had and still has the best alternative to a Microsoft desktop, and considering that it is not Vista, perhaps the best desktop available. But like many good technology solutions it never took the market by storm despite continued frustration with Vista, continued vendor lock-in and the inherent lower cost of an Open Source. Market dynamics and realities stopped SLED’s march. “The reality is that (the Linux desktop) is a slow, gradual, unstoppable growth,” said my buddy Jeremy White at CodeWeavers, a crew … Continue reading

Openly Mobile

The mobile handset market tipping point has arrived, and it is a wonderful thing to watch. In very short order (relatively speaking) the mobile market has seen: Google/Android advance a Linux mobile operating system Symbian convert to Open Source Motorola release Eclipse-based mobile development tools Verizon open its network to certifiable devices not sold by Verizon Wi-Fi handsets are now commonly sold by network carriers, eliminating some data network revenues In short, the mobile market has opened up and this trend will accelerate (which is seemingly impossible, but I never bet against an avalanche). Two dominate forces are causing this to happen: competition and customer resentment. In a rare moment of governmental lucidity, regulatory agencies in charge of frequency allocations made sure that no company could monopolize the cellular industry. This came as a huge surprise to AT&T who is unaccustomed to real competition, and it showed in their perpetual … Continue reading


One problem with Linux is that nobody really knows how big it is. Like any other virus, you have no idea exactly how many bodies it has infected. Ignore the sales numbers from Novell and Red Hat. They tell only part of the story, namely the demand by larger institutions who must ensure success and have support. These sales figures do not even come close gauging unsupported replications of subscribed distributions, hosted Linux (which often is self maintained), departmental servers, all the OpenSuse and Fedora installs, and the occasional renegade Linux laptop. And those are the small markets. I’ve been watching the embedded space more and more. Silicon Strategies Marketing has clients in the mobile phone business, the Linux business, and now in the embedded Linux space. We have been mapping where embedded Linux is finding traction, and some of the issues within that market. The question is “where is … Continue reading