Some of you reading this are probably too young to remember the early days of computers and the good ol' interweb, but way back, once upon a time, things weren't always how they were today.
The early days of computers, at least what we consider computers today, (the mid 1980's-late 90's) were loaded with everyone and every company you could think of trying to make it in the new and exciting world of computers. Obviously the big guys were IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Sun Microsystems, and multiple others. But the big two that we're going to look at are Microsoft and Apple.
I won't go in to any geek details here but basically Microsoft used the DOS prompt command, in which you physically had to type in each command function that you wanted. Instead of clicking on 'print', you had to actually type in something like C:\>print_document and then you had to enter multiple other commands for each option. Sounds SUPER ANNOYING right? Well, it was.
Meanwhile, on the other side of silicon valley... The slightly more artistically inclined crew at Apple had acquired a magical piece of technology called the GUI (Graphical User Interface). Weirdly enough Apple got the GUI and the technology that runs the mouse from Xerox who thought it lacked potential. But, that's a rant for a different time. The GUI is what virtually everyone who uses a piece of technology with a screen is using all the time. It allows you to point and click on icons that in the background write the corresponding code and you don't have to remember anything or understand how to write any sort of nerd language to use the computer.
So although Microsoft would quickly adopt the GUI system, why in the world would anyone choose Microsoft's DOS over Apple and the GUI?? For one very important, somewhat earth changing advantage- OPEN SOURCE PROGRAMMING.
Open Source Programming is, more or less, a type of programming set up where virtually anyone who knows how to write code can create their own programs based upon a source code. An easier way to explain it is all houses have foundations but the design, function, layout, strength, and look are different depending on the different plans the designers and architects decided upon.
Okay, so now that you're up to speed and an honorary computer history nerd- what does all that have to do with anything...at all...almost 30 years later...in business?
Simple- You see while Microsoft initially had the longer route of doing things they had open source programming. Meaning anyone could write a program that ran on DOS-the source code/operating system. As smart as you, the reader, are you have no problem seeing the ENORMOUS potential of this single decision.
Apple on the other hand was basically a closed source program. Only people who worked for Apple or obtained a special license and signed a contract with apple were given the go ahead to use their source codes and operating systems pass words and such to be able to write a program they wanted but wasn't expressly offered by Apple. One key advantage of this was it was much, much harder for people to develop viruses for the Apple system. Whereas anyone who could code was able to write a virus for a DOS system.
And while at first, Apple seemed to be pulling ahead, it wouldn't last. In effect, Apple was only selling it's own products at it's own stores. A fine strategy- until people start asking for more and you don't oblige them.
When this happened Apple began its decline which would last all the way until them bringing Steve Jobs back and steering the company in a new and better, way.
Microsoft whether intentionally, or by mistake, was doing something that EVERY business owner, marketer, and sales person needs to do- LISTEN. Listen to the prospects, customers, employees, etc.
When they decided to use open source programming and allow others to write code with ideas for new programs, products, and software they were listening to what the market was saying it wanted, and naturally, they grew in sales and revenue. Were all the ideas successful? Of course not. Did they have set backs, problems, and obstacles? Of course they did. But they kept listening to what the market was saying it wanted and they were and still are one of the largest companies on the planet.
So remember- you should always, in effect, be "open source programming"- metaphorically of course. Allow input from others! (As long as it's good and constructive input, of course) You should always be listening and acting on what you hear!
If you know one person that would really benefit and could change their circumstances with this information; be their hero and share this post with them right now!
If you would like help with this or any other business, sales, marketing, social media issues and more, contact us at:
Until our next post – we wish you all success!