Thursday, June 24, 2010

The End of No Software?

The other day, I caught a story how - the pioneers of No Software and Cloud Computing - are building an app for the iPad and Android devices both expected in 2011.

That's right: the leader of the cult of no software is developing - gasp - a software application.

Clearly I am missing something. Yes I understand how important mobile computing is and the rest of it, however, I am at a loss to understand why would step out of the cloud and onto terra firma in the world of deployed software. I am wracking my brain to understand why they would do this. Their applications and platform work just as well on Safari and Chrome as they do on IE and Firefox so why divert valuable development resources into building a closed box application on the iPad.

Then it struck me - might some merger or the like happen between Apple and some time in the very near future?

It makes perfect sense (to me anyway). are completely complementary to Apple in so many ways and together they are devastating. I'll explain:

Apple has:
1) Great devices
2) Great application platform for mobile computing for consumer apps
3) Great ecosystem of firms building consumer apps
4) Great customer loyalty and numbers
5) Market cap of over $240 billion
6) Strong central leadership and a CEO who is a visionary and thought leader

Apple hasn't:
1) Trust of enterprises/large corporations around security or application development
2) Any real revenue from corporate businesses
3) A clear successor for Steve Jobs (sorry - they don't) has:
1) Great application platform trusted by large corporations
2) Great customer loyalty and growth
3) Market cap of just under $12 billion
4) Strong central leadership and a CEO who is a visionary and thought leader hasn't:
1) Any consumer-based revenue
2) No device business
3) A tough road to go from $1 billion in revenue to $5 billion as planned

So what if you put these two firms together, what do you have:
1) A firm that can deliver end to end applications - browser or device-based
2) A huge ecosystem of partners building apps for either businesses or consumers
3) A firm ready to merge consumer and corporate apps into one channel
4) Technology trusted by businesses and consumers
5) A firm to really compete with Microsoft and Google and win - big
6) A successor for Steve who is 10 years younger than he is

I might be enjoying the glorious Friday weather too much but this makes way more sense than those or rumours/stories we've all heard. Imagine - the power of the device leader with the cloud computing leader. Wow.

It would be an absolute game changer for the industry and complete the shift to cloud/mobile computing. Businesses would be able to buy in more heavily into the mobile cloud story with the combined entity. Parker Harris and his team would address any security concerns with the OS and take the Apple productivity tools into their cloud with relative ease (that's my guess). The ecosystem could tap into two channels - consumer and business - and start to develop huge revenues through each.

RIM would be done and really have no choice but to sell to Microsoft to give them a viable device business. Microsoft would need to double-down on Azure and hope their .NET developer community can win out over the Apple OS and Java developer community that the entity would carry.

If there is something to this hypothesis, it would be a good year or so away (didn't say they would have an iPad app by mid-2011) and does assume Mr. Jobs is ready to pull back a from running Apple much like Bill Gates has done with Microsoft. I think Mr. Jobs concern is he has a Steve Ballmer type ready not a Steve Jobs type. No offense to Mr. Ballmer but he isnt in the 'visioning thing'.

Marc Benioff is - big time. There are parallels between Mr. Jobs and Mr. Benioff in that Mr. Benioff worked for a time at Apple, has been the slayer of giants and mover of mountains in leading the cloud computing charge. Mr. Jobs we know has done similar in the mobile space. And both have a passion for getting Microsoft.

What if......


  1. Hi Ross - I promised to keep in touch. So here goes...
    I'm sure your tea leaves are being read correctly. But I wanted to add something else to the mix. I've been talking to IP Attorneys recently and they have been lamenting how life is made so much more difficult for them when cloud applications are built by a community rather than by a specific legal entity. They want bright lines between what A owns and what B owns. How much of this is influencing Salesforce's behavior do you think?

  2. Martin, great to hear from you - I hope you are well. Having dealt with SFDC in a OEM agreement, they take a pretty strong position anyway vis a vis IP and their platform (as does Apple I believe). In fact, their standpoint isn't too far off from one Thomson Reuters takes with regards to the RMDS and the data model as I understand it. Essentially, SFDC says clients or partners can use the SFDC component parts from their platform,, to create something new. The resulting construct and ideas are IP of the client/partner but the underlying components remain SFDC IP. So if a client/partner builds a new way to import/export from Outlook say, the SFDC services/IP used to create this remain SFDC's but the resulting 'product/IP' is the client/partner's. It's similar to TR allowing clients to build new record templates and integrate 3rd party data on RMDS I believe. SFDC then has the client/partner pay a license fee to use the SFDC services/IP. I think Apple has the same approach to their SDK for iPad and iPhone built apps. Apps built using linux or other 'shared' IP (i.e. Google Apps) are clearly more problematic.
    So to answer the question - I don't think so, but they are keenly aware of setting new standards and trenches to protect themselves (see the recent counter-suit of Microsoft).
    Battle lines are being drawn in the cloud-war and it will get very messy - and soon