No Likes Being Against a Wall

Have you ever found yourself in a place you don’t want to be? Or having to do something you feel is beneath you?

I know I have of late found myself in those types of situations; the kinds where you find yourself having to go back to step one more times than you want. Having to take a path you didn’t want to. Lately I think that’s where a number of technology companies find themselves.

Microsoft, Nokia, and RIM are not in a good place; they are in places where they have to make fast decisions without the comforts of the place they were before. Nokia and RIM especially are in places neither company could’ve imagine themselves a decade ago or even five years ago. These two were the dominant mobile players in the world; and in some regions still are. But today they are struggling to be competitive in a bipolar Mobile landscape where Apple is the dominant overall brand and Google close behind.

Microsoft too is in this place, this kind of wilderness, where its dominance is eclipsed by the lack of growth of its partners and developers no longer making it a major priority. And while it still has reign over the majority of desktops it becomes clearer each news story about iPad adoption that its a kingdom sitting on sinking sand.

No one would want to be in this position.

I’m writing this in part because I think a lot of us who are into technology and who back a particular company and have adopted their fates as part of their own tend to loose sight of the bigger picture. We also view a lot things in hindsight. Too many times I’ve seen a post or response that begins “If only” or talks about X having a feature before the iPhone or Android. I know I’ve done it; hindsight is easy to exercise after the fact. If only (insert company) had implemented or done (insert platform/UI/Feature) they wouldn’t be in the place they are now. Or if they only listened to X or did Y so on and so on.

We fight over these minute details so hard and so long that we forget to really think. For example Symbian and Windows Mobile were built for a Smartphone market different than the one we have today. Symbian was built in part to stymie the growth of Windows Mobile, which itself was built to unseat Palm. There was no talk of ecosystems; Windows Mobile didn’t connect to every part of the Microsoft platform. A lot of fanboys also forget that Maemo and later MeeGo took a long time to come to market and weren’t tied to a device, it was a platform before device play that was rooted in the mobile game of the past and not the present.

What am I trying to say?

It’s this, and its something I learned a while back, there is no one point at which you can determine a mistake is made, but many. And the reality is that you can have a great idea but it only works if you execute well on it. Everything else is immaterial.

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