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   Re: [xml-dev] SOAP and the Web

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Hi Andrew,

Andrew said:
> There is no such thing as major vendor lock-in. If that fact were true,
> why is Apache the leading web server? Use jboss (GPL) if you don't like
> websphere (IBM). Use perl/tcl-tk/smalltalk/fortran/cobol/et al. and
> write your own SOAP tools. Write a brand new tool and convince others to
> use, like Larry Wall did.
> I'm not saying SOAP is perfect & without warts. It's not. It just
> happens to be the best _available_ choice. By "best" I mean supported
> right now in today's world with readily available affordable tools.

Didier replies:
I agree with the first part of your message but I have to disagree with the
paragraph above or at least bring some nuances to it. Yes a vendor's lock in
is possible due to the network effect. At a certain point people's choice is
mainly driven by the herd effect if all other variables are remained
constant. For instance, in the VHS vs. Beta battle, VHS was more available,
more supported, and people could choose among different manufacturers a
hardware able to read/write the same format. VHS then appeared as a
standard. At a certain point in the technology introduction curve, a big
chunck of the population followed other people's choice. Ionesco wrote a
good play about that phenomenon (the rinhos).

The main difference in that case is that the VHS stuff wasn't owned by a
third party thus all the manufacturers supporting it benefited the fact that
"pagmatist" saw the main advantage of being offered the freedom to chouse
among several manufacturers without being penalized or traped by a
particular manufacturer's proprietary format. No independant manufacturer
was producing the VHS industry standard. It was owned by the manufacturers
not by a single party. In contrast, within the software market segment, a
different phenomenon happened, the owner of the "standard" supported by most
manufacturers is a third party (i.e. Microsoft). In that case people picked
a manufacturer supporting Windows because they could choose their machine
among a plethora of brands and benefit from the "standard" effect offered by
a single platform. This was translated into more competition among hardware
manufacturers and more software choices This is/was  not the case for Mac
and OS2 supported by a single manufacturer. So, in Network economy we
observed that if the standard (or software) is owned by a group of
manufacturers, then there is no lock in factors but a more competitive
landscape (ex: Beta vs. VHS) but when the standard (i.e. software) is owned
by a third party then there is a lock in factor. At a certain point, even if
you introduce new competition like for instance, OS introduced by IBM as
Windoes competitor, people don't buy it because they are lock-in previous
software investment and social constraint (what do people around me have?
Windows?... herd effect). In this kind of market dynamics, the owner of the
standard (ie. software) is in a position of control and the hardware
manufacturers reduced to commodities. The consumer still benefit from the
competitive dynamics among manufacturers vut the "de facto" monopoly enjoy a
unique position reflected off course by its shareholders value (just compare
Microsoft's stocks to any PC manufacturer stock).

Let's imagine another scenario, Several manufacturers set a big pot and fund
or convince a majority of software manufacturer to port their application to
Linux. If these manufacturers create, for instance, a consortium to test,
fund, package and manage the developers behind this platform, then there are
no more third parties involved to control or lock in.

Conclusion: the main difference between the VHS vs. Beta story and the
OS/2-Mac vs. Windows story is that the VHS software (for these people
content is software) "de facto" standard wasn't owned by a third party, and
this is contrasting with the situation we are facing in our world/market

Didier PH Martin


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