A Look at the Greatest Tech Battles Ever Told

In honor of the patent war heating up between Apple and Samsung, we're looking back at epic tech battles. The one thing they all have in common: the future of the universe hung in the balance. (Okay, not the universe but a really big market.)
By Tom Kaneshige
Slideshow Aug 2nd 2012
  • 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.

  • It's iOS vs. Android with the future of mobile as the prize. Want more drama? Throw in the fiery words of the late Steve Jobs: "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 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? The tide turns with every generation.

  • Quick, what software can cost millions of dollars and take years to integrate? Hint: This complex software has derailed many CIO careers. It's enterprise resource planning, or ERP. Oracle and SAP have gone head-to-head for years at this high-stakes poker table.

  • 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 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. But nothing lasts forever, and VHS itself became victim to the DVD, which, in turn, is succumbing to streaming movies.

  • The browser war between Microsoft I.E and Netscape Navigator put Microsoft in the crosshairs of a precedent-setting antitrust case. It led to 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.

  • According to tech writer Eric Lai, the database 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, Oracle won.

  • Pity the humble, independent bookstore and even the mega bookstore. Book readers saunter in, explore different titles 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.

  • It hasn't taken 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.

  • The intense competition between Nintendo, Xbox and PlayStation 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.

  • 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 has since cut a swath out of Microsoft's market share, although Office is likely to continue to dominate the all-important productivity market for the foreseeable future.

  • 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.

Source: CIO (US)


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