Sunday, June 04, 2006


Is Friction Inevitable in Dynamic Ecosystems?

Friction is inevitable in dynamic ecosystems. It is because the roles and business scope changes dramatically. Take the case of Symantec (publishers of the Norton Software). For a long time, Norton software was a complementor to Microsoft. Many retailers bundled the security and virus protection software and offered trial versions free for 30- or 60- days. The roles were clear: Microsoft offered Windows platform and Norton offered security protection modules.

But when Microsoft begins to offer Windows Live OneCare service, the distinction between platform and module blurs. Microsoft and Symantec are no longer partners but they start to compete more directly for the same customer dollars. Their cash registers collide.

I had blogged earlier about the tension between Microsoft and Adobe over whether Microsoft can offer the PDF making functionality for free. The WSJ article reported that:
The dispute with Adobe is whether users of Microsoft's Office software, which include the Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications, will be allowed to save files in Adobe's PDF format. If Microsoft included PDF in its widely used Office programs, it could potentially crimp distribution of Adobe's Acrobat software, which is one of several programs that can be used to create PDF documents.

Adobe declined to clarify its exact objections to Microsoft's use of the specifications. (my emphasis).

Adobe offers technical specifications for PDF free, allowing other software makers to build applications that can read or write PDF files. Software from Apple Computer Inc. and open-source software called OpenOffice use the PDF technology.
These two incidents are not isolated incidents. They are part of the inevitable tension that exists when partnering under fast changing conditions.

Effective strategy in a network era is about navigation under dynamic conditions. And it calls for recognizing the early signals of shifting business roles even in tight ecosystems.

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