I wanted to illustrate in this post some key signals I have seen in the last weeks regarding internet and software markets evolution.
Headline: HP, Intel and Yahoo! joined to research and develop cloud computing.
The Software as a Service (SaaS) is, again, renamed as Cloud Computing, meaning that computation and storage are not located in user's computer anymore but in a remote data center serving thousands or even millions of users.
My comment: This is actually a belated reaction to an agreement signed last year by Google and IBM to work in similar direction that indeed reinforces this roadmap. Intel wins anyway, it doesn't care whether microprocessors are less powerful and local or more powerful and remote. HP also wins anyway, it is one on the top of desktop and laptop sellers but also selling big servers. Yahoo! must catch this train, otherwise Google will be (more) unreachable.
Headline: Windows Live Messenger is now available for Blackberry.
The other day, I read a post regarding an agreement between RIM and Microsoft that would end up with a version of Microsoft Messenger for Blackberry and it took only about a week to have it available, actually I just downloaded it yesterday to my "crackberry" and in spite of a few server connection errors, it works as well as GTalk.
My comment: Microsoft historically has been using its supremacy in PC (desktop, laptop and handheld) operating systems to position its internet services like messenger, if anyone wanted to use messenger on their Blackberry, they must access it through a browser and it was very slow and not friendly. This is a very key movement, Microsoft opens an internet service to a competitor that doesn't use Windows as operating system. It is becoming apparent that Microsoft are adding internet services to their core business.
Headline: Microsoft develops an operating systems not based on Windows.
Even Microsoft is looking at lightweight operating systems not meant to support local advanced features but intented to be a gateway to internet - it is the so-called Midori.
My comment: Microsoft strategic roadmap looks quite unclear they are heading for Software as a Service direction but changing it slightly as Software plus Service, being both software and service quite likely provided by Microsoft. However, at the same time, they are proposing Silverlight as an alternative to Adobe Flash to allow software ubiquity.
Personally, I don't see Microsoft's strategy clear enough to fight in this battle. They are trying to keep their superiority in the PC software market as well as they try to move faster in the internet services but, one can't move and stay at the same time.
Should Steve Ballmer gives me a ring and asks me how they should move forward I would recommend a spin off, on one side a very profitable software company, growing slowly or even keeping their current market share and selling and improving Windows and Office and in the other side all internet services, aggressive growth rate, taking risks, acquiring competitors and being on the cutting edge of the technology.
Wow, my mobile is ringing, country code of US, Redmond, excuse me for a minute I must take this call ....