Has The Internet Just Shot The US Software Industry In The Foot..?

The availability of "demo" and evaluation software via the Internet has reached important new heights as more and more companies are attempting to exploit the idea that this is an unusually level playing field for the small developers, after years of domination by the Big Boys like Microsoft and Lotus.

The conventional wisdom used to be that it took $30m+ to get a software product "noticed" in the traditional channel marketing scheme.

The rate of new product introductions for Internet applications is getting to be breathtaking, some may say absurd. Who can survive with this pace?

I suspect the answer does not include companies with the enormous overheads of the existing "channel" marketing models.

Products made available as evaluation and try/buy versions from the web are at the front of a whole new revolution of Internet software, where the playing field is level and now it's only product quality and features that count from hereon.

Heavens above: someone fetch the smelling salts, Bill Gates has fainted.

Of course, itís not that extreme yet, because large corporates will always be willing to trade some aspect of technical excellence for that comfort factor embodied all those years ago in the idea that "No one ever got fired for buying IBM".

However, the intrepid early adopters of the Internet have no such compunction and readily download products that are still in various phases of beta testing.

The US Software industry has in fact shot itself squarely in the foot with the Internet, because the benefits of the old channel model kept players like MS/Lotus/WP unassailable because of the marketing bucks and channel. The ante was huge.

Computer and IT Journalists, who for the most part are not as heavily into online matters as many might believe, are being quietly "shown" towards this new order with what is happening. If recent announcements from companies like Netscape and InterAp are anything to go by, the pace is hotting considerably.

The old Leviathans are looking doomed and now, for once, the best man can win in the desktop applications business.

Maybe IBMís move on Ltous will turn out to be the most costly mistake in IT history.