The Everything Wars: Outrunning the Double-Dip?

We've been seeing a lot of the Everything wars lately.  I've started to formulate a theory that there may be more to them than just plain corporate competition.

For those of you new to the blog, the Everything Wars is what Bonnie and I call the big battle between major tech/media companies going on now.  The central players are Google, Microsoft, and Apple, but they tangentially involve Amazon, Sony, Nintendo, and others.  Basically everyone is horning in on everyone's territory right now.

Now I normally attributed this to two factors:

  • General corporate competition – fired up by convergence.
  • A lousy economy.

However the Everything Wars seem a tad frantic and faster-paced than I'd expect – we've got announcements, technology, etc. coming at a rapid pace.  Sure some of these things have doubtlessly been in the pipeline, but this is coming a bit faster than I'd expect.  I also keep getting a whiff of separation from many companies.

At the same time, all this effort almost seems like a game of chicken or an effort at a pyrric victory.  As if the companies involved are charging forward with the hope of not so much succeeding as crushing the competition no matter the damage.

I'd like to toss out a theory.

As noted in this blog endlessly we've got a pretty good chance of a double-dip recession according to many economists, and a recovery may be a long time coming.  We might be fortunate to just have a long-drawn out period of "bouncing on the bottom" but it seems most sane economists think we've got problems for awhile, if not another downturn.

I think some of the companies in the everything wars are trying to get as much product out – and do as much damage to the competition – before the likely second downturn.  DO what they can to get customers and derail competition, snatch up as much space – and how that a downturn (or a wearing, multi-year phase of lousy sales) can be the finisher for the competition.  Do as much damage to others, get your product out there – and hope the second dip finishes off competition.

This IS just a theory.  But with the frantic activity I see, I think it's one to consider.

What this means for you career wise (if you don't think I'm full of it) is that some companies are engaged in major pushes now – that doesn't mean they'll keep pushing.  Whether they succeed or not, the efforts we see are probably temporary.  When they cease being done, that's going to affect jobs, opportunities, and the economy.

How do I measure if I'm right?  Sadly, only if, as a double-dip approaches, the companies in the Everything Wars suddenly pull back on new efforts and batten down, or try one last crazy effort to derail competitors.  So we won't know it until we see this.

Or unless someone announces it.  But I doubt that.

– Steven Savage