With the patent wars between Apple and Samsung heating up, it’s no wonder that people are taking a second look at patent law and the consequences for the consumer. I started to think about this in the context of the Enterprise Search market and came to the realization that there has been a significant amount of consolidation within enterprise search over the last few years.
It seems that larger companies are gobbling up smaller companies, whether it’s to add to their talent pool, reduce competition in already competitive market or to add patents to their already extensive portfolios of patents, in order to help in any future litigation. So, what does all of this mean for the consumer?
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Some of the Major Moves in the past years:
- HP bought enterprise search Autonomy for 10.3 billion (August 2011)1
- Oracle bought enterprise search Endeca for 1.1 billion (October 2011)2
- DS bought Desktop Search Exalead for 113 million (June 2010)3
- IBM bought Enterprise Search Vivismo for an undisclosed amount (April 2012)4
There are two ways you can look at it (much like the Apple vs. Samsung patent war).
- You can take it as a good thing that large companies are looking to add to and expand their Enterprise Search businesses. After all, these companies have the ability to throw huge amounts of cash at a new technology and see it through to completion.
- You could see it as stifling competition for the entire market and a way for the “big boys” to hedge against new players in the market, thus hurting innovation.
Room for innovation?
I tend to think that it’s the latter; I think that these companies want Enterprise Search to work. Think of when “big blue” entered into the PC business, it just made everyone else work harder. I hope that that is what is happening here. Of course they are hedging their portfolios and looking to stave off completion in every market (and especially Enterprise Search, it seems) but these are the big leagues. This is where you want your market to end up.
With large companies pouring millions of dollars into Enterprise Search technology, the entire market will benefit! I’m 100% sure that these acquisitions will not be the last from the big guys, so if you are building a great product within Enterprise Search, keep it up. In today’s day and age, the field is pretty level even for the little guy. Consumers will always look for and usually find the best products out there, so there is no reason to worry about the big getting bigger. Appreciate that they see the Enterprise Search industry as a growth industry and then realize that you’re also in that same industry! Congratulations!