Of Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

I was thinking (as I do often) this morning about how the economy is effecting larger corporations, and as a side effect if it can be a benefit to smaller businesses and startups. Let me explain my thoughts

For the longest time my thought was that If I had invested into developing some product I would be concerned that some larger company with a larger bank roll could come in and build something and basically crush the market place for my product. I know cynical, but it has happened before to many small companies throughout history. However as we can see from what’s going on in the marketplace larger companies are starting to shutter business units that are not profitable. Put into perspective what is non-profitable to one company could be an excellent business for another. As an example if (I suspect) a business unit in MS is selling 10 million dollars in revenue of product X, this could be deemed as a non-essential business and be closed. However if a smaller 5-10 man shop sells 10 million dollars in revenue, this would be a great success.

The one problem I see with today’s software development industry is IP law when it comes to Patents. Fundamentally it is flawed in my opinion as the current system stifles innovation. You have heard this before but with the largess of patents issues and the quality of such patents being suspect you can understand how this system has become a runaway train. Think of it this way, I suspect throughout boardrooms, offices, kitchens and bars where ideas are conceived,  thought of what the legal complications will be to bring a product to market are hindering the development of new ideas and technologies. Smaller companies without the resources to go into battle with the larger patent trolls are crushed in a legal system, and those pressure resources are consumed buy nothing but destructive waists of time.

For example, the fact that there is a patent, any patent on XML seems ludicrous. XML is a text format that has well, text in it. Requesting and getting a patent on what is stored in there is nonsense. It was created to store any formatted text that crosses domains. If that data is uses as a database for one application, patient record information, or RPC data really should not matter as that is what it was created for. Though many apply for a patent to store their CRM data in XML, or Form Schema, or ….

I do not want to go into the companies just setup for Patent ownership and litigation,  but honestly that is a business that is not in the system for creation or innovation, but disruption.

Update

Its been a little while since my last blog and when life gets really busy the blog is the first casualty. When I started this year I had some high hopes to dig into some of the newer technologies and build so (IMHO) cool things. Technologies such as WPF as Silverlight, maybe jump into a new Language like F# and even give a try at some IPhone development. Though I have read business has kept be pretty much focused on SalesLogix web development and I have not been able to dig in to that meaty technical dinner like I would have wanted. I cannot complain about being busy at work but sometimes its nice to work in some of the newer stuff. It looks like the rest of the summer is going to be more of the same, except that I have started to take off some weekends to get some nice R&R especially while we have sun up here in Ontario.  I am looking towards the fall, and I suspect a new release of VS2010 to start to get myself into some new stuff. I have lots of ideas, I just need to work out the timing to get them to come to life.

I am still very much excited about Silverlight (with 3.0 coming) and I have been trying to get into a Class on WPF that has been cancelled more times then I want to remember. It seems that training budgets are being slashed all over the place and that is in itself putting pressure on the smaller guys given that the only training that can be had is onsite which as you can imagine is not cost friendly.

I also want to give a shout out to the guys at Telerik. I have done a project with them and they have a great group of people and their controls are fantastic. If you are looking into any 3rd party controls I am sure that they have something that will be just right for you.

So for now training remains as it has in the past, reading, browsing and building.

Have a great day

– Mark