Om is worried that Everybody is in Everybody’s Business. As he points out, it wasn't that long ago that "core competence" used to be the watchword(s) (sic). It's unlike Om to have missed the latest buzzword "edge." For once we aren't referring to networks but economics. There is no good consulting-speak definition of what people mean. Lacking the ability to come up with a phrase that sounds snappy, but ultimately meaningless, I have tried to explain it as the ability to make money out of businesses that are horizontal to your business. In discussions with a (very) solid and cool Magazine1.0 company which is trying to decide if there is a return in Web2.0 functionality in an emerging Internet economy. The straight ad $ returns are unspectacular - hence drive greater revenue through monetizing the eyeballs in other businesses. I guess that's where Google et al got to as well. Having conquered their part of the business the risk was that growth would turn very unspectacular - hence a trip in to - well where precisely?
One of the only endearing aspect of the 2001-to-2005 technology downturn was that people focused on their core business, and tried to build profitable franchises and stayed away from projects that were sure shot money losers. Well, no longer. Now everyone is in everyone’s business.
Google is going to sell books, taking on Amazon. Amazon in turn wants to take on Apple and do movie and music downloads. (Never mind no one is making money in that music download business except Apple.) Microsoft wants a piece of the Search action, and is going all guns blazing after Google, which in turn is going to try and do online word processing. Oh it will also do payments, taking on eBay’s Paypal.
Just thinking out loud - whatever happened to the core competency? Is the pressure of meeting the quarterly numbers and pleasing the Wall Street so much that companies are once again taking their eye off the ball. Jeff Bezos should be making sure that his online super-mart stays profitable instead of blowing up big dollars on a download service which may or may not become a big business.
Apple, for all its faults has that focus thing down pat. Okay maybe I am just being old-fashioned… hmmmmph!