I was thinking about the discussion that Rich Sharples (Red Hat), Shaun Connolly (SpringSource), Larry Cable (Oracle/BEA), Jerry Waldorf (Sun), Adam Gross (Salesforce.com) and I had at the SD West Application Server panel a week ago. The session was billed as healthy debate about the Application Server market and our respective company’s role in the future of the market. I’d conversed with a few of these guys in the past and was looking forward to some level of one-upsmanship at the expense of the product/company we were each representing. However, the discussion turned out to be much more civilized, with little discussion about kinks in the amour of our respective products. Rather, we spoke about growing the ecosystem in which we all compete. While this sits well with my Canadian sensibility, I wasn’t sure what to make of it.
Then I saw this tweet from Redmonk’s James Governor:
monkchips its great to see respectful, insightful coverage of Microsoft Silverlight news from #MIX09 from the Adobe team – @mdowney, @sjespers etc.
And then a light bulb went off.
It’s very easy to put down competitor X’s product when your statement is not going to be saved for prosperity on the Internet, and when the people working on product X are faceless. However, in today’s interconnected market, many of us have interacted online with peers at competitors long before in-person meetings. As this has happened, I sense we, as vendors in the software market, have raised the bar of mutual respect and learning. This is goodness for those of us who compete. It’s also goodness for customers because we vendors are spending our time and resources learning from our competitors in order to deliver a better product experience. This is significantly more rewarding than spending time and resources putting down other products. Customers choose products on the strength of the value they deliver, not on the lack of value delivered by competing products.
Dr. Phil over and out.