Matthew JC Powell: Shall I compare thee ... only if it’s favourable

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This article appeared in the 15th October, 2007 issue of CRN magazine.

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Matthew JC Powell: Shall I compare thee ... only if it’s favourable
In the Desiderata, a well-known poem by Max Ehrmann, there’s a wonderful bit that I try to keep close to heart:

“If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter/for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”
It’s a key part of my life philosophy.

I never compare myself to other people – unless, of course, I’m better than them.

For instance, I always considered it quite amusing when Apple was using Motorola’s 680X0 series processors in its machines, and studiously avoided comparisons against the Intel 80X86 processors used in the majority of Windows PCs.

“Clock Speed isn’t the issue” Apple would say, “it’s all about the user experience”. Of course, when it came out with PowerPC chips that had higher clock speeds than the Intel processors of the time, it was all about “our processors can achieve a massive 100MHz – yay us”. Until of course Intel overtook the PowerPC speeds. Then it was all about “the megahertz myth” and the difficulty of comparing performance on the basis of clock speed alone.

Until, of course, the PowerPC G5 came out, at a clock speed higher than the Intel Xeon chips of the time. I don’t do that kind of thing, so I’m better than Apple.
Numerous others have berated Apple for seeking comparisons only when they’re favourable. Not least Microsoft, which doesn’t make hardware, but loves to point out its superiority over Apple and others.

Microsoft, of course, has massive market share. In desktop operating systems. In productivity applications. In web browsers. Even in game consoles, where it is still deemed a relative newcomer.

At its recent analysts meeting, Microsoft sent its chief operating officer, Kevin Turner, out to reassure the market that Vista was not selling all that badly at all. “By our math,” he estimated, in his own estimable way, “we eclipsed the entire install base of Apple in the first five weeks.”

So there you go. Don’t look at the numbers (which are below your expectations I know) just look at the market share. We outsold Apple. Yes, Apple. That company whose diminutive market share we’ve been deriding all these years. Nailed ’em.

Of course, at the recent launch of Zune 2.0, the obvious question was asked, about the device’s as yet quixotic charge on the dominance of Apple’s iPod. Microsoft’s corporate vice president in charge of Zune replied “the market share thing is the easy thing to discuss and write about, but it’s such a bad measure. Talk to me in six or seven years about market share. Talk to me this year about the experience we are creating.”

I’ll leave the last words to the aforementioned Ehrmann:
“With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

Matthew JC. Powell remembers what peace there may be in silence. Speak your truth quietly and clearly to mjcp@optusnet.com.au.
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