Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cyber-reflections (nothing original here)

In a sentence, a late-evening quickie, here's a true, first-person story:

Malcolm's American son-in-law, over for the Christmas vacation, expressed interest in Number 3 daughter's iPhone. [New readers start here: she otherwise is the Pert Young Piece.]

This, to say the least, involved a leap of the imagination:
  • Redfellow Hovel is an all-Mac household.
  • The Noo Joisey affiliation is not ... or rather, was not, until Number 1 daughter suddenly acquired a 17-inch MacPro. Obviously, things were happening.
  • The American son-in-law was, until lately, a dyed-in-the-wool corporation man: standard combat-issue Dell lap-top and Blackberry.
So why the change of view? Well, there's this:

That's two definite front-runners, a couple of also-rans, and the MS empire nowhere.

Meanwhile, over at macobserver.com, Malcolm finds Bryan Chaffin rubbing salt into the gaping wound:
In a few short years, the company has gone from being a scary-ass giant that seemed certain to drown the tech world in a sea of mediocrity to an embarrassing old uncle with lots of money and dreams of faded glory shambling along in a pantomime of his past accomplishments.

Big Redmond -- and that analogy to IBM and its age of dominance no longer seems as apt as it once did -- is still dominant in PC operating systems, but who cares? The world, including Microsoft, follows what Apple is doing, leaving the company in the driver's seat in the PC world, even with its tiny, but growing, market share.

Microsoft is a bit player in the world of online music downloads and digital media devices, and is increasingly becoming a has-been in smartphones, despite (or maybe because of) having been an early player in that space. The Xbox platform is doing well, though, so rock on there. I think the company may even be close to making back all the money it has spent on that project.

Bing may turn out OK, though I strongly doubt it will unseat Google as the search king. Indeed, I'll be surprised if Bing can become even a strong second to Google in that arena.
That's an extreme, even partial view; but there are germs of truth therein:
  • Windows 7 had to succeed, at least in numerical sales, because Vista had been such a dog. Corporations face a stark choice: stick with MS Windows 7 or commit to a huge re-equipment investment. In the present economic state, for most that was a no-brainer (those smaller, more agile companies who thought twice probably went Linux or Open Source at some point).
  • When a Microsoft executive, even one in the 51st State, mutters about Office 7 seeking to imitate MacOs 1.6, he is not mis-speaking. The MacOs desktop is the experience others want.
  • MacOS Leopard and Snow Leopard are mature, reliable, stable platforms. MacOS has transferred painlessly (well, painlessly for the end-user) to the iPhone, and (let us see) to the hypothetical iSlate. As the graph above shows, not many would say the same of the portings of MS Windows to mobile devices. Nor should we mention those appalling Tablets that were discounted and dumped wholesale on schools.
  • Apple has nailed the whole marketing operation to a degree that others must copy in the hope of emulation. The iTunes and iApps on-line phenomenon is quite staggering in its success, and the speed of its success. With it lies the opportunity to generate a whole on-demand provision of electronic content: news, films and entertainment, education, anything and everything that can be codified, pushed, transmitted, fed to a point of presence. The implications are staggering: at a single blow, the whole network of media come together in one potentiality. Only two corporations (Apple and Google) seem to have that sussed.
This is not the end of cyber-history:
All human things are subject to decay,
And when fate summons, monarchs must obey.
Thus John Dryden, putting the boot into a poetic rival around 1682-4. As IBM, and Microsoft, so, in due course, these present Colossi which bestride the world.

For the moment, though, Malcolm wishes he had sold all his earthly possessions and bought Apple stock at $13. Sphere: Related Content

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