Things That Define Big Software Companies

Looking at the software industry, it appears that most big companies usually share more traits than they would like to admit. Take for example their products: at any given time, big software companies all had at least one product of various similar categories, roughly grouped in three big areas.

The companies fitting such a description are the usual suspects:

Let’s start with the foundational parts first.

The second area of interest are developer tools.

Finally, we have the consumer space. Only Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Google are active in this area. I don’t expect to see an Oracle smartwatch or an IBM music store anytime soon, if you see what I mean, but I’ve often been wrong in the past.

Upcoming battlefields:

Here’s the gist: software companies became big because all of these bricks generate a positive feedback effect as they reinforce one another, orbiting around the needs of somewhat orthogonal groups of users.

Playing the platform game is an expensive, but hugely lucrative game in the long run. Yes, it is expensive; to reach a billion users, you have to literally spend tens of billions of your favorite non-devalued currency.

Hewlett-Packard, Xerox, and countless other technology companies could have been part of this group, had they embraced software as an industry and a potential, and not as an afterthought. Facebook could count but they are more of a media company than anything else.

Maybe the Alibaba Group or the Tata Group could follow these steps? Maybe they already do to a large degree.

On the other hand, here’s things people thought all big software companies could/should/had to do, but outsiders did them much better: