Late Bloomers Show

That's the kind of glib remark that you can expect from a marketing exec at SunMicrosystems. Indeed, Anil Garde, "a Sun vice president of marketing" was quotedas above by Peter Burrows in the May 31, 1999 issue of Business Week.

Doesn't Mr. Garde know (doesn't everyone?) that being late to the table in thetechnology game can actually be an advantage? Gateway was late into the direct-to-marketPC box game, but that didn't keep Ted Waite and company from accumulating $8 billion.That's despite having their online corporate pocket picked by Dell. And of course, BillGates, himself miscalculated the impact of the Internet on Microsoft's bottom line. Butthat didn't stop the Micrsoserfs from (finally) creating a good Web browser. InternetExplorer 5.0 is a case study in a product (not even a good one in its original form)brought late to market.

And on the OS front, how about that Linux? By all accounts, it's kicking the snot outof Windows NT. Although Linux has been around for awhile, it's a "late entrant"in commercial form. And with recent interest from Compaq, Dell, HP and IBM, the big moneycan't be far behind.


Last month, HP finally took the wraps off its E-services strategy, including itsparadigm-busting, E-speak technology (aka "Freemont"). E-speak, according toHP-speak, will "serve as the universal language of E-services". Rajiv Gupta,general manager of HP's Open Services Operations, says that "E-speak inserts anelectronic mediator to bid, broker and build the right set of resources or services tocomplete a particular request. Instead of a user having to go to a Web site to conduct alltransactions, this approach enables "The Net" to come to users and work on theirbehalf to get tasks done."

And speaking of everything "E", this month HP has finally launched its veryfirst online shopping Web site -- HPBusiness Store -- for small-and medium-sizedbusinesses ( that want to buy HP products online. Later this year, HP'senterprise customers will be brought into the E-loop. It's all part of HP's new "AllChannels, All the Time," strategy (see my interview with Vikram Metha in the Aprilissue) that promises that "whoever you are, whatever you want to buy and however youwant to buy it, we pledge to meet your expectations."

So, HP's betting that it's way early in the e-everything phenomenon. Granted, stocks ofInternet companies are selling at stratospheric P/E multiples ­ but halfway to the moon?Apollo 13 was halfway to the moon. Now we call it a "successful failure." Howmany of today's dot-com shooting stars, accelerating more on promise than profits, will beable to say that of in another five years? Ten years? Better late than never, I alwayssay.