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Bad Packets: Misplaced mission statements

Wes Simonds, Assistant Site Editor
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Mission statements define corporate goals. SearchNetworking recently came into possession of early drafts of secret, internal mission statements of a number of high-profile technology firms.

Microsoft: Most people have heard our former mission statement: "A computer on every desk and every computer running Microsoft software." In the new millennium, we care less about such tangible visions and instead simply strive whenever possible to earn ever-increasing quarterly profits and market capitalization. Toward these ends, we are prepared to do whatever is required. It's been said that we live to destroy competition and monopolize the software industry, but this is untrue. We simply want maximum cash. If the surest way to earn maximum cash was to hire professional wrestlers to kick us in the crotch every day at breakfast, then that's what we would do. (We've tried it, and unfortunately, it doesn't work.) Destroying the competition and monopolizing the software industry are therefore not our mission, but merely pleasant side effects of our mission. We do not believe in the concept of open-source software; in fact, we have great contempt for it as anti-capitalist. We have heard people say that information wants to be free. We think those people have committed the classic blunder of confusing "information" and "Nelson Mandela." Until such time as we can purchase them, state and federal governments remain a threat.

Cisco: Our strategy is to connect everything to everything else through interoperable compatibility with all technologies and ownership of all data streams. If we own it, we can connect you to it. If someone else owns it, we can connect you to it. If it hasn't got a digital interface because it's a form of breakfast cereal, we can find a new way to connect you to it, and don't think we won't. If it doesn't exist yet, we will eventually connect you to it, provided you buy our product today. If you can't buy anything we sell today, then at least buy our stock. (If you need a way to connect your business to an online broker so that your employees can buy our stock, say the word and we'll sell you the products that will do it.) All features that are necessary, and many that aren't, will be rolled into all products. All protocols are embraced without exception. If someone else makes it and you want it, we will either guarantee our technology is a superset of their technology, or purchase their company outright so that there is no distinction between them and us. We are vaguely aware of open-source software as a justification for connecting things to other things. We are consciously aware that our CEO is actually a sensible, mature businessman not prone to saying and doing absurd things, which leaves us at a competitive media disadvantage which we hide, whenever possible, by focusing instead on how our products connect things to other things.

Apple: Think Different. That means: Sell the concept of cool. Associate all products with coolness, implying that coolness can be bought for the cost of a new Mac. Features are nice, but what really distinguishes products in a slowing economy is brand. For instance, raw speed is nifty, but in the end, irrelevant. If the competition has higher clock rates, argue that clock rates are a myth. If the competition has lower clock rates, argue that clock rates are a critical consideration (this never happens). If the competition can be distinguished in no readily apparent way, imply that counterculture geniuses all use Apple products, so that purchasing Apple products is essentially the same as demonstrating your own counterculture genius (or at least hanging out with other people's). It's been said that we live to bring innovation to the desktop, but this is untrue. We simply want to exude coolness. If the surest way to exude coolness was to hire professional wrestlers to kick us in the crotch every day at breakfast, then that's what we would do. Earning any form of profit would merely be a pleasant side effect of our mission. Apple believes strongly in the future of open-source software and supports it in every way, provided that in the end, it turns out that open-source software is cool. Otherwise, not so much.

Sun: The important thing is not to be Microsoft. We will strive to make it apparent to potential customers that despite appearances, Sun is definitely not Microsoft. Proofs: (1) "Sun" is a different name from "Microsoft." (2) Microsoft is about the manipulation of an operating system as the ultimate leverage in the creation, expansion and defense of a digital business empire, whereas Sun is about the manipulation of a programming language as the ultimate leverage in the creation, expansion, and defense of a business empire. (3) Microsoft is run by a despot named Ballmer; Sun, on the other hand, is run by a despot named Scooter. (Play up folksy quality of "Scooter" as small-town American nickname in public speeches, using unflattering puns on "Windows" and "Gates" if possible.) (4) Sun is happy to associate with, and believe in the merit of, open-source software in all cases where it will impact poorly on Microsoft's revenues. This is not a problem for Sun, because, and we can't stress this enough, Microsoft is definitely not the same as Sun. In the end, through carefully positioning ourselves as being not the same thing as Microsoft, we hope to stem the gushing tide of top-level management receding outwards from our company.

Corel: Knee-shaped Eiffel tower. Quaint lumpen gravitational fields; dog biscuits. Hands sketching each other in greyscale portraits. The crow flies at midnight. Whipped cream!

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