Demons over the Decades

I recently attended a very interesting debate about whether Google or Rupert Murdoch had more influence in the UK today. Speakers also considered who would have more influence in ten years’ time. During the debate one of the protagonists refrained from calling Google the Antichrist, but only just. Similar things have been said about Mr Murdoch.

In the weekend papers, a broadsheet ran an article about “Jobzilla”. No prizes for guessing it was referring to Apple’s CEO. If you listen to some pundits, the future has only one phone in it, and it’s fruit-flavoured.

As I look over my career I’ve seen so much wasted time, effort and energy in proclamations that one particular product, company or country was going to take over the world. Seemingly, nobody would ever sell a similar product or exist in the corporate world ever again. As Google, Apple and others are being tipped for global domination, I thought I’d review some of these demons.

In the 60s and 70s there was the all-conquering Hoover. How would competition survive against this global giant? Yet one very bad marketing campaign in the 80s and the giant was laid low. Hello, Mr Dyson.

Once, every company had an IBM mainframe computer. They controlled the world and nothing moved without an instruction from an IBM machine. One bad decision about the fledgling PC market, and IBM lost its grip.

At one time, Japan Inc. ruled the world. All our consumer electronics came from the land of the rising sun. What had happened to the mighty European Phillips? Japanese was going to be our second language. Now production in Japan is a fraction of what it was and we’re all learning Mandarin.

So what happened? Technology shifts, market forces and personal ambition happened. Guys like Steve Jobs, James Dyson and Bill Gates didn’t worry about the demons of their decades. They got on and generated their own monsters.

If I may be allowed a little trumpet-blowing, CCS Insight has been rated among the top 10 analyst houses in the world. Not bad for a company that was a one-man band only six years ago. We’re generating our own monster.

And the outcome of the debate? Rupert Murdoch, for now. But Google in ten years’ time.

Yet I can’t help thinking it’ll be some other, as yet unknown, demon.