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Competing On Internet Time: Lessons From Netscape And Its Battle With Microsoft Paperback – January 12, 2000
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No other business rivalry has captured the public imagination quite like the one between Netscape and Microsoft. And for good reason. It pits the world's richest corporation against a relatively recent startup. The implications of this battle--for everything from electronic commerce to network communications--extend well into the next millennium. Competing on Internet Time, by Michael A. Cusumano and David B. Yoffie, is the definitive blow-by-blow analysis of Netscape's battle with Microsoft, starting with the founding of Netscape in 1994 through the summer of 1998, just as Microsoft was about to enter the courtroom with the Justice department over its alleged monopolistic practices.
Based on a series of interviews with Netscape employees and others, Competing on Internet Time is more than a breathless corporate biography. Rather, the authors draw lessons from the mistakes and victories that both Netscape and Microsoft have suffered and enjoyed in their war for 'Net turf--in terms of browsers, server software, and portal space. The authors come up with some surprising conclusions. For example, in examining the competitive strategies of both companies, Cusumano and Yoffie conclude that Microsoft, more than Netscape, exhibited what they call a "judo flexibility." Here they point to Microsoft's now famous December 7, 1995 Internet Day announcement of the company's embrace-and-extend strategy and its subsequent sacrifice of MSN in a deal with AOL--prime examples of how Microsoft redefined the battle in a way that avoided a direct confrontation with Netscape but nevertheless placed them center stage in the fight for Internet mindshare. The authors also go into fascinating detail about how each company operates--from the hiring of staffers to the conception, development, and marketing of products.
But this book is more than just about the conflict between Netscape and Microsoft. Anyone interested in how network-based businesses grow and change will find Competing on Internet Time a glimpse into the not-too-distant network economy. It belongs on the bookshelf of every Internet junkie and entrepreneur. --Harry C. Edwards --This text refers to the Loose Leaf edition.
Walter S. Mossberg The Wall Street Journal The first clear, sophisticated analysis I've seen of the competitive practices at the company that forged the Internet marketplace and was for a time its dominant player.
Steve Hamm Business Week A marvelous, detailed account and analysis of Netscape's rocket-launch rise and mid-flight corrections.
Katherine Mieszkowski Fast Company A rarity: a serious book by serious professors that is timely, engaging, and fun to read....The book is smart.
Teresa McUsic The Miami Herald Few books deliver the goods quite as effectively as this insightful, crisp and highly readable account.
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The authors studies Netscape over a significant amount of time and had dozens of interviews on which they base this book The book contains 6 chapter and (my version) contained an important afterword that described what happened after the first version of the book was published. The first chapter is an introduction to the book whereas the last chapter is more or less a "what can we learn from the story" chapter that summarized the earlier made points and tries to give concrete advise based on that.
The second chapter describes how Netscape got started and was how it quickly grew into a rather large company for one that lasted so short :) From the beginning it hired experienced people (especially from a start-up perspective) and it tried to build the organization and infrastructure based on the assumptions that it would be large. This is something I personally question whether this is a good idea as it seems to be the authors assumption that this is a good idea. In fact, throughout the book there are many assumptions about X is good "when in business" which at times felt annoying.
Chapter 3-5 discusses strategy from 3 different perspectives. 3) The competitive strategy, 4) the design strategy and 5) the development strategy. The competitive strategy described the decisions Netscape took on which markets to operate, how to price their products, etc. It kind-of gives the super-senior-management impression where the management of the company had the perfect view and "on purpose" made these decisions, as if you truly have that amount of control over a company. Also, the Judo/Sumo analogies to martial arts, started to annoy me at this time... that is... the authors explained that Netscape used "judo" strategy where they used "the strength of the opponent" to their own advantage, whereas Microsoft could use "Sumo" strategy because they are big. These analogies felt unrealistic to me (very business-school like, which isn't a surprise considering the authors are business school professors)
Chapter 4 and 5 talked a bit more about the technical decisions made (e.g. the support of Java) and how they were right or wrong and about how the company actually developed the product. The chapters are interesting, yet they reflect very strongly that the authors actually don't have much technical skill and seem to be unaware of what happened on a code level within Netscape or how the company was managed on a low-level. In fact, these chapters feel somewhat contradicting to posts on the internet from ex-Netscape developers who "left the sinking ship". Still, most of the information was summarized from the interviews which made it still an interesting read.
Focus and Execution are key element of any business success!
The book fits very well with an evolutionary view of how routines & bundles of routines develop within organizations. I recommend it to people interested in evolutionary theory.
The authors supply a cold dose of reality for anyone who thinks that managing a knowledge intensive high growth start is easy!
Most PC software is distributed through two channels:
1) Computer OEM channel which includes companies such as Dell, IBM, Compaq. The software is preloaded.
Netscape had a disadvantage compared with Microsoft because Windows is the default choice for PC users. Since Netscape did not have strong relationships with partners such as Dell, it had to distribute its software via the Internet. When Microsoft placed an Internet Explorer icon on the desktop, this was the start to the end of Netscape's dominance. People did not see a significant difference between Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. They simply went with the default - Internet Explorer. I highly recommend this book.
- Mariusz Skonieczny, author of Why Are We So Clueless about the Stock Market? Learn how to invest your money, how to pick stocks, and how to make money in the stock market