It's *NOT* About The Number of Players In The Marketplace! : A Response To John Lilly, COO, Mozilla Corporation
Never forget the vendor-neutral part, because without it the switching cost makes choosing a vendor a high-stakes decision and subjects consumers to all sorts of abusive treatment from their suppliers (the vendors and those who distribute the products / services of the vendors).
I just left the following as a comment to John Lilly’s recent post entitled “A Picture’s Worth 100M Users???” I’m reposting it here (with a few grammatical fixes and inserted extensions. I’ve linked to the original for comparison) because I believe the point is an important distinction to understand, and that is this,
It’s *NOT* about the number of players in any given marketplace! It’s about maintaining a competitive atmosphere, resulting in better products.
Of course one could argue it’s also about the number of choices you have, and to a point I agree. That said, the next time you travel overseas and find yourself fumbling around in your electrical plug adapter kit, ask yourself the following question,
“Do I really wish I had just a few more adapters to choose from?”
Of course, maybe the one adapter that you need is the one you lost on your last trip, or is the one you determined ahead of time to not be of any use, so chose not to bring it along. In that case, then the answer would probably be “Yes!” But in most cases what is likely to be stated is “Why can’t we all just agree on one standard and be happy with it?” Of course, that brings us back full circle to the importance of competition, as without competition the incentive to build better product is diminished, which collectively comes together to form the following,
It’s not *just* about competition, nor is it *just* about choice. It’s about balance.
My recent comment follows,
There is a difference between using a pie chart to state a goal, and believing that this same pie chart represents reality. Take that same pie chart and replace “Internet Explorer” w/ “Firefox” and ask yourself “Would I like this to be the reality?” placing emphasis on the portion of the chart that represents Firefox, not on the portion that doesn’t represent Firefox, regardless of how many players the other portion truly represents. It’s representative of a “big dream”, not of a perfect world where everybody happily just gets along.
If I own stock in Apple, my interest is directly attached to Apple generating revenue and/or in other ways increasing the value of my stock. In other words, I’m interested in Apple treating business as business, and community as community. In the world of business, #1 and #2 are all that matter. #3 still makes money, but they don’t have leverage, nor do they control enough of the market to be considered a threat.
Be happy w/ your #2 spot [insert: ], but recognize that Apple isn’t looking at this from the perspective of “How do we beat Mozilla?” and instead “How do we beat Microsoft?”
That said, I would have *MUCH* rather the slide suggested something more to the effect of Safari representing what “Internet Explorer” represents, and the other portion listed as “Other”. Why? [insert: ] Because nobody aims for second place. They aim for first, and deal w/ being second/third/fourth/fifth and so forth for as long as they have to [insert: ]. Anything else, and you’ve lost your *competitive* edge, and when it comes down to it, *THAT’S* what is most important…
As always, thanks for reading. This stuff is important! ;-)