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Letter to Janet Reno (Coca-Cola not Microsoft..)

  An Open Letter to Janet Reno:
  Dear Attorney General Reno:
  The computer industry is alive and well!  There have never been more
  start-ups, more successful mid and large size computer companies.   There
  is constant innovation in products.  Prices in almost every product
  category are going down.  And, technology is viewed as America's finest and
  most important export throughout the world.  The Internet is expanding and
  whole new models of computing are coming to the marketplace.  Even my
  87-year old mom is now on the net.  Yes, the computer industry is alive and
  So, why is the Justice Department attacking Microsoft?  I work with every
  major software company, from IBM to Microsoft, and I just don't understand
  what Janet Reno is doing.  It doesn't make sense!
  Take any major Fortune 500 company.  They are the prime users of
  technologies.  Visit their accounting office and ask them to pull up the
  figure for how much money they paid to Microsoft last year.  It will be a
  pittance of their total spending on computer technology.  They have spent
  money on some server software, perhaps a copy of Microsoft Office on every
  desktop and a few other applications.  This number pales in comparison to
  what they are paying for their core accounting package, enterprise
  databases and the hardware of their infrastructure.  Microsoft is highly
  visible but is far, far, far from dominating their computing world.  
  Ask a corporate computer manager if they feel as though they are lacking
  choices due to Microsoft's dominance of the marketplace and they will
  probably laughÂ…if only they had fewer choices they would wishÂ…fewer
  salespeople, fewer integration problems, fewer decisions.  
  As an historian of technology, there are precedents for Microsoft's
  success.  Ford Motor Company was a major force in the early days of the
  auto industry.  General Electric was a major force in the electronics and
  lighting industries.  McDonald's was the only game in fast food.  Kodak and
  Xerox were the whole game in their fields.  New industries create and
  require leadership and reward those companies with success.  The
  marketplace creates and rewards competition, providing success for smart
  We also have to understand the rate of innovation and the few barriers to
  competition.  If a software company in Bangalor, India (one of the up and
  coming technology centers in the world) developed a new piece of software
  that browsed the internet and also did my accounting, here is what would
  happen.  The word would get out.  Within 10 days, more than a hundred
  thousand people would download the software from the internet.  If it were
  really coolÂ…or more importantly, if it really did something for the user,
  the word would spread.  Within a month, millions of people would have
  downloaded the software.  And, the company in India, assuming they had a
  smart business model for making money, would be a world player.
  The world wasn't thinking about browsers three years ago.  And, we will
  probably have a fully different model for our information access three
  years from now.  We cannot allow government intervention in the incredible
  world wind innovation engine called the computer industry.  Should we tell
  the software developers to stop their work to make browsers and desktops
  act as one?  Or, tell them to stop a project on network computers to make
  desktop applications irrelevant?  No!  Let them do their work. Let the
  marketplace decide.
  Microsoft put their on-line network (MSN) icon on every copy of Windows 95.
   Was it a smashing success?  No. Why?  It wasn't what people wanted at the
  time.  Presence does not assure success.  But, success allows presence.  Do
  I care if Intel puts an Intel Inside sticker on my laptop?  Not really, as
  long as their chips work wonders.  Let's be clear about a fundamental
  aspect of marketing:  success allows presence.  Something called free
  Janet Reno, I really respect you!  You have been one of the smartest folks
  in that job for a while.  But, why are you fixing something that is not
  broken? Is Microsoft a large and deeply driven company?  Sure.  But, so are
  their competitors. By the way, I would be equally upset if you were
  investigating IBM, Netscape, Lotus, Oracle, Gateway or Dell.
  If you want to fix something, let me buy my soda of choice at a restaurant.
   Every day I order a Diet Coke.  Three times a week I am asked if Diet
  Pepsi is OK.  Why?  Because the two big cola makers have made deals for
  single product exclusives.  These two products taste totally different.  I
  can order 20 types of beers, 15 types of vodka and whiskey at a bar.  But,
  they carry only 1 soda.  Do I believe that we need a Cola-Gate
  investigation? HmmmÂ… it might be nice.  But, we have serious problems in
  our society, so I will handle this one on my ownÂ… with my dollars and feet.
  Keep an eye on all of our big industries.  Study them for signs that one
  player is stifling innovation or artificially keeping prices high.  That is
  what anti-trust means.  But, please don't mess with the most important
  industry segment this country owns and the world depends on. If you really
  need to have a high profile case, I'll come down and we can talk about that
  thing with Pepsi and Coke.
  Respectfully yours,
  Elliott Masie
  The MASIE Center 
  Elliott Masie is the President of The MASIE Center, an international
  thinktank on technology trends.  He has been a consultant and adviser for
  software companies ranging from IBM, Novell, Lotus, Microsoft, Autodesk and