One of the biggest trends in our industry lately is the consolidation of companies. We see IBM, Oracle and Microsoft buying up either specialty companies to fill out their portfolios, to get certain people in the fold, or to remove the competition. Is this a good thing?
On one front, I think consolidation is a good thing. Most industries begin with lots of "cottage companies", or small firms that do something that customers want. They get bigger, or when they can't fill the need, other copy-cat firms spring up. As the industry matures, one company dominates and the rest are bought up or are competed out of the market. So when IT firms start doing this, it's a mark that we are maturing as an industry, and I view that as a good thing.
On the other hand, having witnessed company consolidation first-hand, it's usually a bad thing. Think HP/Compaq or Mercedes/Chrysler. The people that are good cash out, and the cultures never mix. So in the short term at least, we get worse products.
So as usualy it is a complex thing. Consolidation is a belleweather that things are maturing, and a sign that crappier products are on the way!
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