A tweetstorm from Marc Andreessen


  • 1/Late night tweetstorm addendum to earlier series on unbundling (https://t.co/ecgBveoiMj) and rebundling (https://t.co/0fw9alDKh3)...
  • 2/Younger followers asked me to expand on DEC/Sun/Microsoft unbundling: older history, therefore useful to study as precedent for our time.
  • 3/Once upon a time (1950s-1960s), businesses mostly bought computers from IBM, & IBM also bundled in all the software & services you'd need.
  • 4/IBM bundled offerings were extremely expensive, while demand for computers spread to departments & smaller businesses who had less $.
  • 5/So DEC unbundled the computer itself from the total bundle & sold it for less $ to customers who could then write their own software.
  • 6/But a DEC computer itself was a bundle of proprietary components: VAX hardware, VMS operating system, RDB database, etc.
  • 7/In the 80's, Sun came along & sold a similar power computer to DEC's for 1/4 the cost w/unbundled components: Unix OS + Motorola chips.
  • 8/DEC responded by going upmarket & becoming more like IBM; Sun & other Unix workstation vendors chewed through their market + grew it more.
  • 9/Critical point: At point when DEC started to tip over, its integrated offering was as close to perfect as our industry will ever see.
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    10/Ask people who were working then (like me) and they'll tell you to this day that they miss VAX/VMS & how productive they could be on it.
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    11/Meanwhile Microsoft & Intel came along and fully implemented the unbundled low-cost computer, first PCs and then Windows-based servers.
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    12/Sun responded to Microsoft/Intel by rebundling: Rebuilding itself in DEC's image with Sparc chip, Solaris OS -- proprietary HW+SW stack.
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    13/Again, Sun got close to perfection as an integrated system when unbundled Microsoft+Intel & Linux+Intel went broad & forced sale of co.
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    14/Picking up thread with Microsoft: Microsoft has spent last 15 years rebundling, rebuilding itself in DEC's image much like Sun. Now + HW!
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    15/Once again, bundled Microsoft stack very close to perfect just as it comes under attack from next unbundling wave: mobile + cloud.
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    16/Fascinating twist: Under new leadership, Microsoft 2014 now committed to unbundling -- full app + cloud support for iOS, Android, Linux!
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    17/Microsoft taking new unbundling strategy offensively vs new titans who are bundling as fast as possible! Apple, Google, Amazon, Oracle.
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    18/The point? I don't know much about what our industry will look like in 50 years, but I'm quite confident these same dynamics will apply.