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The Decline and Fall of IBM: End of an American Icon? Paperback – June 10, 2014
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About the Author
Robert X. Cringely has been a Silicon Valley journalist and character for more than 30 years. An early employee of iconic companies including Apple and Adobe Systems, Cringely began his career as an engineer then transitioned into reporting and analysis, first at InfoWorld and since 1997 as one of the first Internet bloggers, first at pbs.org and now at cringely.com. His work has appeared in magazines and newspapers throughout the world including Forbes, The New York Times, Newsweek, MIT Technology Journal and many others. In addition to InfoWorld he has worked as a columnist for Inc. and Worth magazines and ASCII magazine in Japan. His previous book, Accidental Empires, was published in 18 languages. His television documentaries made primarily for PBS and UK Channel 4 have aired in more than 60 countries. Cringely lives in Santa Rosa, California with his lovely wife and three young sons.
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I found nothing in this book that was false. It's about time this came out for the public to see.
I sure do hope a few influential people look at this book and question IBM executives, and then question them some more. Eventually, their playbook will be emptied and all that would be left is the IBM'er that needs to truly illustrate what is in his/her heart and mind to make any real progress.
The book will be important as it will likely get good media attention due to Cringely's notoriety and should create additional pressures to IBM's stock price which is truly the one item that the Senior Management is concerned with.
As a regular reader of his blog, I was very excited to see he was writing a book about IBM's recent history and decline. Unfortunately the arguments within the book do not provide enough evidence to support his claims. I agree with Cringely on several points, however this will do little to sway those who oppose his views.
I wish there were more research and better editing. Where is the data that shows IBM is behind in the cloud? Why do stock buybacks fail in the long-term, and can you provide some examples? I want information from the source that proves IBM is in decline. Cringely seems to rely on employee water cooler talk and "an old friend of a friend who's a CTO" as factual basis for his complaints about IBM.
There are some examples of botched customer contracts, but we never hear from the customers themselves - just what Cringely wants to hear from internal employee comments. We are also not presented with a pro-IBM opinion aside from a mass employee email in 2007. Even in a book that is anti-IBM management, you need to understand the IBM executive strategy in order to further prove your point. Instead of quoting IBM management and providing counterpoints, Cringely just calls them political conservatives (??) with too many MBA's. The book ends up reading like an extended blog post written by a disgruntled employee.
Finally, I question the editing. I understand a mistake in a self-published book, but it just looks bad when you keep seeing the wrong "their" or "effect" used. And I think the employee comments could have been better summarized. In closing, while I agree with Cringely's main summary, the problems within IBM could have been detailed much better.
This book also exposes off-shoring for the short-sighted sham that it often is.