What companies plan their purchases strategically?

Craig Bailey posted this link on Twitter regarding Sun’s lacklustre performance last quarter –
Jonathan Schwartz’s Blog: Our Q3

Choice quotes:

Why don’t you just stop giving your software away?

Because we prioritize developer adoption. Let me give an example….the MySQL team had scored a design win – ahead of the proprietary competition. What should we have charged them beforehand? No matter what it was, they wouldn’t have used the product – startups and developers don’t pay for software…We didn’t pay them, the MySQL team earned their adoption.”

“Why does Sun’s CEO waste time writing that blog?
Because I believe in providing clarity surrounding our strategy and operations – not just once a year in the Annual Report. I believe clarity behind our direction is useful for our shareholders, customers, partners and employees.”

It’s a great post, full of honesty (as far as I can tell) about what’s going on at Sun and it contrasts with the Microsoft/Yahoo debacle.

The most disappointing thing I have heard regarding the proposed (now dropped) merger was Balmer’s assertion that he wasn’t buying Yahoo for the technologies but rather simply for the online advertising business. While I can appreciate that to some extent (there was a fair bit of overlap) , it’s also a bit strange because both companies are now getting known for their ability to scoop up companies and then let them languish. I think Microsoft does a far better job of integrating their purchases into their entire system (consider FoxPro into SQL and other technologies) but some obviously don’t think so.

Microsoft does a great job with their development tools and getting the message out (Rock the Launch was a great example of that) – but their direction can be spotty or there is a rush to get something out and then to correct it later.  And yet, there are lots of technologies within Microsoft just dying to see the light of day, be they internally-developed or purchased.

There was a FoxPro devcon quite a few years ago when the mantra was not “Fox Rocks” but rather “Challenge Me” – the premise being that you could do virtually anything with FoxPro.

Microsoft continues to do that but it seems, to me at any rate, that it’s in areas that they are already behind the curve. As a result, it’s seen as a “me too”. Consider that Yahoo introduced Pipes before PopFly and even though they are different, they are also similar enough to let people make a connection.  As Joel Spolsky wrote, even Mesh seems like something that’s been done before.

Where is the Excel 3.0 of the next generation of web apps?

Microsoft – don’t just challenge me – challenge yourself. You’ve done it before – show us you can do it again.