Friday, 6 June 2008

Microsoft leaves the field

So Microsoft has decided to stop digitising books on behalf of partner libraries.

What does that mean for institutions who were hoping for a white knight to come along and fund their move to digital?

Well, you could argue from Redmond's point of view this is a good move - the kneejerk reaction to trace the footsteps of Google, wherever they might lead has been seen to be a futile exercise in this case. Being a fast follower is all very well, but where you're going has to make strategic sense.

Also, as a software company, what was Microsoft up to squatting in libraries with dozens of Kirtas scanners?

So it's back to plan A for libraries (unless you want to get into bed with Google). The advantages of this are that it forces institutions to think really rigorously about committing resource into becoming a digital entity and all that entails.

When you have to fund something yourself and sweat over getting the resources to do it, you normally make pretty sure you're doing exactly the right thing. If someone hands you a gift sometimes treat it more lightly.

Looking at the contracts with people like Microsoft and Google, treating it lightly would be unwise.

In a competitive knowledge economy with multiple potential sources for information, why will people come to your site rather than elsewhere?