Nobody Ever Got Fired For Buying Microsoft

Used to be NobodyEverGotFiredForBuyingIbm?.

Perhaps it should be NobodyEverGotFiredForBuyingFoo? because it is a general concept, "smell", or whatever you want to call it. It implies that one goes with the safe-but-expensive choice. This in turn props up the "safe" company, allowing them to further eat up the competition. It is in essence a self-fullfilling prophecy, or at least a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

It happens with Oracle also. Oracle is expensive, but the chances of it not being able to handle the load or going out of business is small.

But this is not a general phrase; the exact phrase "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" was an extremely widely used cliche in the 1970s. The modern use of substituting "Microsoft" or some other company is (a) nowhere near as widely used as the original was, back then, and (b) when it is used, is largely used in conscious imitation, with the speaker typically knowing that the original phrase was with "IBM".

The youngbies don't remember. Thus, if we make it a generic topic, then we won't get into generational issues.

"IBM will always be there."

My first job with a company of more than 100 personnel was with an "AllBlue?" outfit (partly because their major customer was a BigBlue shop). We bought everything from them that could be used to satisfy (more or less) our requirements. Including a software component that handled all our screen forms.

One day we got the notification from IBM that 1) they would no longer sell the component, 2) they would no longer support the component, 3) we could not make an EndOfLife purchase, 4) we could not purchase the product (neither rights nor source code), 5) we could not structure a license or royalty deal with them for the product, and 6) they were not replacing the product with anything else.

From this we derived that security != buying from "big company that will always be there".

We shopped around until we found 1) a product adequate to the job, 2) a company that would sell the source code.

The ProductSecurityFallacy? of "it is safe to buy from a company so big that the TruckNumber is larger than we are" is ... just that, a fallacy.

All by itself that experience makes me lean toward OpenSource.

-- GarryHamilton

Very good points, but this was always part of the truism, because the point is that, even if you get screwed like that, you wouldn't get fired for it -- whereras if you got screwed like that by a no-name company, you might well take the blame.

And after all--it's only the company's money.

At least from a cynical point of view. "Nobody ever..." is in large part a CYA ploy. Buying from a no-name company might seem like the "right" thing to do, but can be a CareerLimitingMove.

Does CYA mean CoverYourArse?

Close. It's CoverYourAss.

The first time I encountered the statement (it was about IBM), it was in an article which described someone as knowing it wasn't true "because he fired the guy".
The original phrase as regards IBM was a cliche about IBM's perceived reliability. You're not fired because management trusts it, and perhaps this reputation was (mostly) earned. I can't think of any horror stories of IBM systems randomly crashing that weren't hardware/contextual, eating data (operator error not withstanding), or being wide open to intrusion at every level (calling for anecdotes where IBM design flaws caused massive business loss, anyone?).


When used in reference to Microsoft it seems to be a sarcastic reflection of the original phrase used instead to indicate the easy and automatic scapegoatability of Microsoft due to perceived lack of reliability. You won't get fired because even if/when it fails, management couldn't conceive of an alternative, and Microsoft failures are considered random forces of nature to be managed by systemic redundancy and buying more stuff from Microsoft instead of any pressure within or on the vendor to provide solid products.

I've indeed known people to get fired, or at least moved/removed from projects, for buying or trying to force Microsoft (Sharepoint, in particular) or Oracle into an infrastructure.

I feel the phrases are inherently different despite the market position necessary to make the phrase have meaning is the same. That said, I move that NobodyEverGotFiredForBuyingIbm? should either be reinstated and the differences made clear (its of historical important for young guys who aren't aware that there was life before MS-DOS or WindowsXP or whatever), or this page generalized to NobodyEverGotFiredForBuyingFoo? with a section on each. -- CraigEverett?

I vote for the "foo" version. Microsoft is looking shaky of late. In 5 years it just may be NobodyEverGotFiredForBuyingGoogle?. --top

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