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Corporations Know What’s Good For You

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” – Thomas J Watson, Chairman and CEO of IBM, in 1943.

“We’re in the business of delivering what consumers want, and to stay a little ahead of what we think they will want. We just don’t see the need of delivering that to consumers.” – Irene Esteves, Chief Financial Officer of Time Warner Cable, responding to a question about Google’s gigabit internet service in Kansas City, today.

UPDATE: Good article on why Cable and Telecom companies suck so much. The conclusion:

The fact that any Internet service provider is held in the same level of esteem by American consumers as an insurance company that required a massive taxpayer bailout and an oil company that dumped a bunch of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico is stunning. It indicates that not only are Americans dissatisfied with their current choice of broadband providers, but that they’re positively itching for an alternative that will let them tear up their monthly cable bills for good.

Or put another way, cable companies had better enjoy their regional monopolies while they can. Because if any competitor comes along that delivers a faster service at a reasonable price in the near future, then the consumer exodus from cable will be swift and permanent.


One Comment

  1. Michael wrote:

    Oh, the old Watson quote. I have to object to its use here, though.

    The Watson quote was revolutionary (and considered to be quite ambitious) at the time. When he said it, ABC and Zuse Z3 were the only computers in existence (at least that we still have records of). Colossus hadn’t yet come online and the Harvard Mark I was still being designed. At some point, I saw an article that demonstrated Watson’s claim held up for about a decade. Until the early-to-mid 1950s, there were only about 5 computers functioning in the entire world at a time. The reason is that no one could afford them. So, yes, only 5 computers were needed to satisfy the market demand. Predicting (almost exactly) the world-wide market for almost a decade, especially at a time when communication was much more limited than it is today… That’s pretty much business genius. Nobody now can even predict what the market will do a year or two down the road, let alone a decade.

    Going back to the original point, making a remarkably accurate prediction of the market is much different than saying that you want to determine what the market demands then refuse to offer it.

    Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 8:39 am | Permalink