It is not just technology that changes. The IT industry is one where acquisitions, mergers, buyouts, sales, reshuffles, takeovers – hostile and otherwise – are common. Names can change quicker than passwords; your business rival can become your boss in the space of a few hours’ wheeler dealing.
Google regularly splashes the cash to bring new products and services into its fold, like YouTube, DoubleClick and the latest in its sights, Groupon. Skype has had a few owners in recent years and it has been suggested that Cisco is now interested.
Sometimes deals can be whoppers, like the rumours Apple’s interested in buying Sony; sometimes it’s hardly on the radar of newsworthiness such as eBay buying shopping start up Milo.com last week.
Where things can get interesting is what the buyer plans to do with their new purchase. Do they let it carry on in its own sweet way as its own brand/operation – albeit with someone, no doubt, offering titbits of advice. For example, a few years back this magazine’s owners Fairfax Media bought online auction site TradeMe and, to all intents and purposes, it remained business as usual for the site’s users.
However, when Google got its hands on EarthViewer 3D, it quickly became Google Earth. And on acquiring web-based word processor EtherPad, it was closed down completely and Google released the code that runs it as open source. And so it goes on.
I have to admit I got a bit of a shock when attending an exhibition the other week. It all started out normally enough. You know what you’re going to get with these tradeshow events. It was a warehouse-type building, with rows of stands, bright lights and slick multimedia presentations showing the exhibitors’ wares.
There were all the usual suspects there, well-known names in the industry. One large, brightly-lit corner stand caught my eye. Who? Well, I’ll have to grant it name suppression, the reason for which should become obvious in short order. Suffice to say, it’s a major player in the digital communications world.
After a few pleasantries, I got the quick tour, then a slower one for things I was actually interested in. One product in particular piqued my curiosity – it wasn’t theirs, or hadn’t been until a few hours earlier. From a business perspective it didn’t take a genius to see the product range and expertise of the latter made for a good fit with the purchaser’s portfolio. But that didn’t help the poor guys on the stand.
There hadn’t been time to make any branding changes, just a few minor adjustments. There were crossed-out phone numbers on brochures, a quick swotting up on new specs, along with strategically-placed stickers replacing the previous owner’s logo with the new.
Who says low tech solutions don’t have a place in the hi-tech world!