I chatted with server-based computing expert Brian Madden the other day, and we got on the topic of VMware Inc.’s long-term viability as a company. Unlike VMware’s stock holders, Madden believes that the company won’t always be the behemoth it is today, despite the massive changes it has spurned in the IT industry.
Today, VMware’s strength is its “first-mover advantage,” according to Madden. But the same lead that has enabled VMware to enjoy an overwhelming market share, and a several-year technological advantage over its competitors, might also come back to haunt it, Madden said.
“Look, Amazon wasn’t the first online bookseller, eBay wasn’t the first online auction house, Internet Explorer wasn’t the first Web browser,” he said.
The list of second-mover companies that have rapidly eclipsed the pioneers is substantial. (Then again, the list of companies with first-mover advantage that made it, so to speak, is probably also pretty long.)
With mounting pressure on VMware from all sides, Madden thinks the company’s days are numbered. “VMware is going to be a footnote in the history of IT,” he predicted, “albeit an important footnote, no doubt about it, because of the way that they’ve changed the industry. But in the long run, I think our kids will be talking about VMware in their history classes.”