is there a future for me in a world controlled by Microsoft and Open Source

Eric Kidd asks “is there a future for me in a world controlled by Microsoft and Open Source?”

Let's go back 10 years, OK? Remember Baskin Robbins? 10 years ago they owned a near monopoly on ice-cream outlets. At least they did in Silicon Valley. Yeah, they had a few competitors here and there, but they had the majority of the market. I bet if you had told Baskin Robbin's executives 10 years ago “there's gonna be a new chain that's gonna come along that's gonna obliterate your market and change the rules” that their execs would have laughed in your face.

I bet that Baskin Robbins had lots of Eric Kidds back then who said “I sure wish I could make a mint selling ice cream like Baskin Robbins, but these guys have the world all wrapped up.”

Enter Cold Stone Creamery.

This upstart chain has completely changed the rules of what an ice cream store should be. In every Cold Stone, the employees are upbeat. Happy, even. Excited. Why? Freaking profits baby!

By all measure, Cold Stone should be a failure. It entered an already-mature market. Ice cream is ice cream, right? You think Software Developers have a tough time coming up with a “new big idea?” Try being an ice cream executive. Go ahead. Stare at the stuff. It's milk fat and sugar and a few other things. There's NO WAY TO INNOVATE, right? Hey, did you realize that Cold Stone charges each of its customers MORE than Baskin Robbins does? For the same frozen milk fat and stuff. And, it entered a market with a near monopoly position.

Oh, and everytime I eat at Cold Stone, I'm stuck sitting in line. Long lines. 13 minutes today. Yes, I count these things. Customers should be pissed. Guess what, they aren't! Instead, they LIKE waiting in line. Don't believe me? Ask some of their customers.

Cold Stone Creameries are popping up faster than Krispy Kreme dealerships. They are kicking Baskin Robbins' ass.

How did they do it? Eric Kidd, please pay attention. They came up with a new concept.

Instead of just serving ice cream, they mix stuff into it. And, they have employees who act like they are a member of a cult. They even sing you a song if you tip them (each store's crew usually knows at least a half dozen songs, by the way).

But, their ice cream is superior to Baskin Robbins and even if it isn't, the experience of getting ice cream there is sublime.

Now, let's get back to Eric, now that we know it's possible to take on “a big evil corporate behemoth who has everything all sewn up.” Eric: you'll be here when you're 55. Me too (I hope).

One nice thing about software is that you CAN change the world.

Look at the blogging industry. Did you realize that most of the blog companies only have a couple of employees? Geesh, how did Microsoft MISS that category?

Or, look at Instant Messenging software. Let's go back to 1996. Microsoft was just as dominant in the industry then as it is now. So, where the hell did ICQ come from? The three kids who wrote ICQ went on to sell their company in 1998 for something like $290 million in cash. Yeah, maybe the environment today isn't that good for hitting the jackpot like that, but let me tell you, you can still come up with a “Cold Stone.”

Think you have a “Cold Stone” concept? You know where to find me.  [The Scobleizer Weblog]

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