Is this the end of free speech?

This blog has hosted numerous passionate debates on competition and strategy, particularly in the area of ‘business as a battlefied’ – a concept that seems always to evoke strong feelings from the participants. Yesterday I came across a bit of news on a blog I frequent "Patent News blog" from NewScientist, that leads me to question many of the conventions that support corporate strategy.

What happened? First I attempted to connect to my friend Emma in the UK by Skype, as we always do to talk about her business Makes a Change – impossible, terrible sound quality and that rarely happens. Then later I called Mom in Singapore, using SkypeOut as I usually do, again, she couldn’t hear me at all. I might have blamed Skype but for the fact that I came across that blogpost, here is the key part of it:

A patent application from German company Infineon reveals a technology
for deliberately interfering with internet telephony transmissions – or
"voice over IP" (VoIP).

The application doesn’t expand on why it
would be used. But it could conceivably come in handy for any company
that operates both phone and internet services and would like to
protect their phone business from the growing popularity of VoIP.

Of course, yesterday could just have been a bad day in the VoIP world, or there was a sunspot flaring but the combination of events makes one think, no? Is this healthy competition? Or is it an act based on the ‘markets as battlefields’ theory that many subscribe to in order to conceive of corporate strategy.

Does it not make sense to consider how better to offer your services than invest time and effort to block your competition?

We’ve had conversations on companies thinking too much about their competition and not enough about their customers. When you let your competition define your activities, and not your customers, who are you and what do you have to offer me?

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