The notion that something done alone is done well, isn't really selling well. If you make something that communicates in just one mode, or works with (or for) just one thing, chances are people will lose interest quickly. This is not a rule, and I don't want people coming knocking on my door citing examples where my theory falls. It's an observation, not a prophecy! :P
Amalgamation of good things
Take for example something we use everyday, and yet not notice the importance of it. A chat client! Which one do you use most frequently? Windows Live Messenger? Yahoo! Messenger? Or maybe the underappreciated Gtalk? Chances are, if you're not a power user, you use one of the above listed. If you are one however, in 9/10 cases, you'll be either using a open source multi-protocal IM-er. Something like Psi, or Miranda. If you're not one for OS, you might go for Trillian!
My point, is that today people who like to get the most out of what they use, go for integrated solutions in their most frequently used things. I'm sure no-one likes to switch around applications and things to get their things done. If offered one application that does most of the things decently, as compared to ten applications that do their parts well, most people would pick the one application solution. Why? Ease and convenience of use! Your work gets done faster, much more easily, and let's face it, with the least amount of looking and hunting around. We are all lazy somwhere deep down! :D
I take the example of IM-ers because that's where the most amount of examples struck me. But I'm sure if you think carefully enough, you'll see the pattern emerge in your everyday life. Do share them with me, I'd love to make my point stronger! :)
The mistakes corrected
Now, companies are looking to join up their core competences, to come up with products that are superior in more than one facet. The recent tie between Microsoft and Yahoo! to combine compatibility of Yahoo! and Windows Live Messenger is a perfect example (although Google and AOL got their first! :P ). They are realising that instead of trying to outdo each other, it's much better to work together to come up with a truly superior product, that everyone can use and enjoy. Trying to deny usability and compatibility with others just to keep an edge over the competition, is not only lame, but puts the proverbial 'thorn in your side' as you use the thing everyday. But you can't leave it because it does just that one thing which you love so much! Thankfully, this is being reduced slowly and steadily as access to data is opened up.
Monopoly isn't always a good thing. It stagnates the field, and makes us resistant to change. The classic debate is Windows and Macs. There is a story on Digg every 3-4 days about how some big business man changed over, and now is seeing his productivity increase! They make me happy, not because Mac wins in the tussle, but because it shows that people are waking up to better possibilities and doing something about the things they use. They are looking for more productivity than a comfort zone. This means that startups and other companies can offer smaller, but better solutions, and actually expect people to use them. But finally, it just proves that people have brains! :) After all, its the ability to think that makes us human, isn't it?
Have you made a switch or change you were glad about? What do you recommend in place of an estabilished (big but comparitively bad) product? Share them with us! :)