In honor of the patent war heating up between Apple and Samsung, we look back at some epic tech battles.
Oracle. Apple. Google. Facebook. Microsoft. SAP. We’ve seen some of the biggest names in some of the nastiest battles over the years. The balance of power shifts, markets move, and there’s a disturbance in the Force. Call it Tech Wars.
iOS vs. Android
It’s iOS vs. Android with the future of mobile as the prize. Want more drama? Throw in the fiery words of the most admired CEO in history, the late Steve Jobs: “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go to thermonuclear war on this. They are scared to death because they know they are guilty.”
PC vs. Mac
This is the greatest tech battle ever, played out on the small screen pitting the geeks against the cool kids. It is the battle from which all other battles have been judged. The words “I’m a PC, I’m a Mac” have become part of our culture. So who has won? Like Star Wars Jedi vs. Sith, the tide turns with every generation.
Oracle vs. SAP
Quick, what software can cost millions of dollars and take years to integrate? Hint: This complex software has derailed many CIO careers. There can be only one, of course, and it’s enterprise resource planning, or ERP. Oracle and SAP have gone head to head for years at this high-stakes poker table.
Facebook vs. MySpace
In the super-hot social networking space, Facebook rules the empire. But it wasn’t always that way. MySpace used to be the most visited social networking site in the world, riding pop culture, music, and teenyboppers to lofty heights. Then came Facebook. It appealed to the young, college-educated professional and ushered social networking into the mainstream.
VHS vs. Beta
VHS and Beta are pretty much gone now, but the two technologies sparked the first battle for the living room — specifically, home movies. VHS, of course, won. It was the machine that launched a thousand rental stores across the country.
But nothing lasts forever, and VHS itself became victim to the DVD, which, in turn, is succumbing to streaming movies. Meanwhile, rental stores are getting torn down as quickly as a bad VHS machine chewed up the edges of a tape.
Internet Explorer vs. Netscape Navigator
If you were following the tech scene in the 1990s, you’d remember the browser war between Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator — one that drew in the Department of Justice and put Microsoft in the crosshairs of a precedent-setting antitrust case. It also featured the surreal sight of Bill Gates testifying and saying over and over, “I don’t recall.” That’s right, the same guy with the brilliant mind.
OK, so only techie publications cared much about the great decade-long Database War between Oracle, Sybase, Informix, IBM, and others. According to tech writer Eric Lai, the war started a fixation on performance measured by artificially enhanced benchmarks, which has “led to a distrust of benchmarks that lingers to this day.” Oh, and Oracle won.
Bookstores vs. Amazon
Pity the humble, independent bookstore and even the mega bookstore. Book readers saunter in, explore different titles, gaze through books and then … whip out their iPhone and order it on Amazon. The massive online bookstore took a wrecking ball to the brick-and-mortar bookstore and upended an industry. The mayhem continues to this day. Heck, Amazon brought the phrase “brick-and-mortar” into modern-day vernacular.
Google vs. Yahoo
Remember when “search” was a neat little Web tool from companies with cute sounding names? It didn’t take long for search to become a powerful market driven by search engines with complex algorithms that generate tons of dollars of online advertising. Google stomped on Yahoo and became one of the biggest, baddest tech companies on the planet. Struggling Yahoo has had five CEOs in five years and now hopes ex-Googler Marissa Mayer can lead a comeback.
War Games (Nintendo, Xbox, and Playstation)
Nintendo, Xbox, and PlayStation have been battling it out in the gaming industry for years, from home video consoles to mobile platforms. It’s been fun to watch and play, and if you’ve got kids, you’ve probably paid for them all. The intense competition has led to grand advancements in gaming, including epic online adventures, awesome first-person shooting campaigns, and the Wii. Gaming now is one of the biggest markets for consumer tech.
Google Apps vs. Microsoft Office
When Google Apps first appeared on the Web to go head-to-head with the venerable Microsoft Office suite, it didn’t look like a fair fight. Google Apps were quirky to use and didn’t feel ready for prime time. But tech wars can turn on a dime. Google Apps has since cut a chunk out of Microsoft’s market share, although Office is likely to continue to dominate the all-important productivity market for the foreseeable future.
Jedi Yoda vs. Darth Sidious
Epic tech battles have the feeling of the universe hanging in the balance, kinda like when Jedi Master Yoda took on the Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith. In some tech battles, good did not always triumph over evil. In Star Wars, Yoda got his butt kicked, narrowly escaped, and slumped off into exile telling us what we already knew. “Failed, I have.”