International -- Readers Report
Can China's Interior Wait So Long? (int'l edition)
Going by "China's wealth gap" (Asian Edition Cover Story, May 8), it seems that China is like a powder keg, ready to explode at any time. During Mao's rule, people could be indifferent to their economic plight, as everybody else was poor, too. But hope makes the difference now. The eastern provinces have shown that coming out of dire economic necessity and poverty is possible.
Despite the newly kindled hopes, there is a lack of opportunity for the people in the country's interior. Because of its very nature, capital will flow more to the regions where it has already accumulated. This will starve China's interior. But the Chinese people cannot wait long to improve their lot.
A major reason for the present situation of lopsided development is the chauvinistic nature of Chinese rulers. They developed the provinces bordering on Hong Kong to facilitate a smooth merger of the country with the mainland, rather than with any clear-cut economic plans for the long-term future. If Chinese leaders really wanted a market socialist economy, their planning would have been much different. They would have allowed for more democratic space and more free play of the market forces in the overall development of the country.
D. Papa Rao
Hyderabad, IndiaReturn to top
Microsoft's Foes Are Fighting Yesterday's Battle (int'l edition)
I have been in the computer business for 20 years, working for different German and international companies. At my company now, we like our business relationship with Microsoft Corp. ("Bill's splitting headache," American News, May 8). Microsoft is leading the market because of its first-class high-tech marketing, superior products, and superior business strategies. There was aggressive marketing, but I never saw unfair business practices.
How did Microsoft reach this position? Through pursuit of innovation and compatibility: It had the first desktop operating system (MS-DOS), the first Office Suite, the Windows operating environment, and the back-office operating environment. In addition, Microsoft had a clear compatibility strategy with focus on one and only one hardware platform.
To be sure, Microsoft's rivals made a number of fundamental mistakes. Apple Computer Inc. had the most mature Windows operating system in the 1980s, but keeping it proprietary missed the mark, leaving the door open for Microsoft. The Unix community failed in the low-end market because its members never managed to agree on a clean standard, which at the end of the day is the prerequisite of cost-effective solutions for the volume market.
Why are Microsoft products so strong? Because Office and Windows are the "Esperanto" computers. Hundreds of millions of people know how to work with these products, which represent an investment of trillions of dollars. The U.S. should be proud of contributing to the welfare of the world economy.
What would be the impact of a breakup of Microsoft? It would harm Microsoft without helping the competition. Most important, it would hurt customers and the industry. It would distract Microsoft management from the real issues, consequently slowing the pace of innovation. It would consume enormous energy in a nonsense exercise. The strength of NT Workstation, NT Server, and Windows 2000 would remain unchanged, but the future in terms of seamless product integration and low-cost software quality would be endangered.
This would be the fight of yesterday: When the Microsoft case is finally decided, it will be clear that the next technological change has made this discussion obsolete.
Where do the opportunities lie today? They exist in the seamless integration of business applications and Internet integration with B2B and B2C. In high-end applications, Oracle seems to have pulled ahead with a fully integrated application suite. Others, such as SAP and Siebel, are following closely. What is missing today is a B2B de facto standard for small and midsize companies and products supporting this, an activity that, in my view, only Microsoft can orchestrate.
MunichReturn to top