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Two Things I Like About Texas: MyEclipse & Southwest Airlines

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Jens E

Posts: 219
Nickname: jense
Registered: Sep, 2006

Jens E is a writer who focuses on the Java/tech industries. Employed currently by Genuitec, LLC
Two Things I Like About Texas: MyEclipse & Southwest Airlines Posted: Mar 27, 2007 9:24 AM
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In 1972, a small Texas commuter airline was formed with a simple premise: get people where they want to go fast, cheap and fun. What began as a simple, but disruptive idea is today a household name in the United States: Southwest Airlines.

Southwest is recognized consistently by Fortune 500 magazine, and is at or near the top of the list in the number of passengers transported in the US every month. But with this demonstrated success over a significant period of time, why did it take the unfortunate events of 9/11 to bring Southwest to the forefront of the business press and television attention? The answer: the “normal” airlines were down the tubes, making no money, declaring bankruptcy, canceling flights and pensions. Suddenly, the world asked “How can an airline charging an average of $100 round trip be making money over airlines charging $300-400 for the same route?”

Southwest's response: a unique business model that focuses on both customer and internal business productivity. Southwest recognized 35 years ago that people want to get where they're going fast and easy, without the hassles of procedure and paying for unused frills. It was a uniquely simple idea, but a concept that no one had the courage to explore.

I actually had the pleasure of meeting one of the visionaries behind Southwest, Herb Kelleher (co-founder and former CEO of Southwest, current Chairman of the Board), in 2002 as the airline industry was reeling. In a television interview, the lively, funny, and approachable man verified, in so many words, that Southwest's disruptive style is what helped it survive and even grow during an industry lull. But it was easy to see where the vision for that disruption was rooted; in a deep love for his customers and customer service. He was one of those men who would look you in the eye and whether you were a CEO or a janitor, you were the most important person in his world for that period of time (an attitude that is clearly visible for all Southwest's employees).

This customer-driven approach and unique business model reminded me greatly of the way that disruptive, customer-focused organizations like Genuitec are approaching the software tools industry. As MyEclipse continues to grow in global adoption, it shares the same skeptical attitudes Southwest undoubtedly experienced during its growth years. “You get what you pay for” and “they can't survive at those prices” were the same lines used by other airline carriers when Southwest was defending their position, and these lines are now being recycled on MyEclipse. Quotes like this are ones we love to hang on our walls as motivation. MyEclipse adoption is growing at 100% per year in a competitive market, and is now used by well over 400,000 people in 11,000 enterprises in 150 countries. 100% growth is forecast again for 2007. It's difficult to argue with those kind of numbers, but it won't be an easy battle for mind share, with many entrenched players and naysayers.

So how will we continue to be successful and grow? The same way Southwest approached passenger transport: let's get our users the best tools as quickly as possible, as cheaply as possible, and without the hassle and bloat of other players. Lower the barrier to the end user. Meet customer needs in an expeditious and accessible way.

This is the sort of disruptive style that many of the “big boys” dismiss as rhetoric (with the notable exception of our strategic partnership with Hitachi, of course), but we see as the future of software tools.

MyEclipse is apparently getting harder for the software giants to dismiss, considering some of the baiting antics that took place at a recent software conference. It seems that many companies are looking to discredit MyEclipse or attempting to create the “MyEclipse killer” application. I appreciate those efforts. Not only does this keep the R&D team at MyEclipse on their toes, but I take it as a tremendous compliment that we are backhandedly being acknowledged as a forceful competitor. Having a bullseye on your back definitely has its pluses... it means you are worth targeting.

Like Southwest's competitors of yesteryear, MyEclipse has seen several vendors over the past few years attempt to duplicate the subscription or pricing model to no avail. The MyEclipse value measured in features, quality and price has proved too overwhelming to even the most aggressive imitators. But why, with all this demonstrated success and market share, does Genuitec get so little attention from the mainstream press or even its own business associations? Perhaps, like Southwest, Genuitec will not get its due credit until some unforeseen industry-wide event.

But wait, critics say, this isn't a valid analogy. I can get software tools for free, you can't fly for free. Perhaps (for more on the idea that free isn't really free, please go here). But you could drive anywhere on the continent. Southwest turned a 12-hour drive and $200 in gas into a 2 hour flight for $50. In the same way, you could attempt to cobble together a conglomeration of “free” tools for hours on end, and “drive” to your destination for a higher cost in time, money and wear-and-tear. Or, you could take the solution-driven approach of MyEclipse, with over 200,000 man-hours invested in optimization for just $30/year.

And it doesn't end at a price point. When you choose MyEclipse, you're getting more than just a tools solution. You're getting the commitment of a customer-first organization who is solely tools-focused, not focused on upselling services or hardware.

An executive from Hitachi was recently addressing a crowd and the issue of why Hitachi chose Genuitec as a partner in delivering development tools to Japan was raised. The answer was clear and straightforward. “Genuitec is honest,” he said. “They are honest in business and honest with developers.” You can imagine the weight that carries with us, and we are tremendously honored to be acknowledged in this way. With MyEclipse, you not only get a low-cost solution, but also a promise of quality, delivery, and customer focus for the tools you need. Period.

So the question is left to the consumer: do you want to have a high-priced, lock-in solution to your tools needs, or do you prefer an honest-dealing, low-cost, better-service, just-what-you-needed solution?

Airline customers have made an analogous choice over the years, and the answers are clear.

Interestingly, Southwest Airlines recently faced a choice when it came to their own development tools. They chose MyEclipse.

What tools will you choose?

Jens, Genuitec, LLC

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