Oct 7, 2010

History Repeats

We're starting to get to the point when new initiates to the computing community don't know the story of the PC. If you're interested in it then please check out the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley. It's about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and has some great quotes in it such as "keep your friends close, and your enemies closer" and "good artists copy, great artists steal". It also has a basic history lesson in it and this history lesson is, I suspect, repeating itself.

The PC became the top selling computer knocking off competitors such as the Apple II, Atari 800, various Commodore models... etc because of several factors. One being that IBM was a powerhouse company and spent a lot on advertising it with their Charlie Chaplin ads. Another being its open architecture with the ISA bus allowed for massive flexibility. But the biggest reason was that IBM let Microsoft license the Operating System to whomever they could creating a massive market of cheaper 'PC clones'. People like the same thing for cheap. There was a smaller 'clone market' for the Apple and my friend across the street (we're talking 8th grade) had a 'Pineapple' clone. If I recall, they weren't legal so that made their distribution more of an underground activity. PC clones were freely available.

So, today we're seeing the mobile wars fought before our eyes. The proprietary Blackberry... the proprietary iPhone... and the open Android. With the exception of an odd loss in court, Android can't lose. I only wish it was simple to invest in the company that sells its operating system. With Android we're going to have some of the problems that plague the PC such as 'this game doesn't work with a Hercules graphics card' and developers will have to support a variety different system specifications (i.e. input methods, screen sizes, CPU speeds, ...etc). Fragmentation will be an issue, but Android will be the dominant platform. Why do you think vendors are fighting over who's going to run 'the' app store for the Android? Amazon, Verizon, ...etc see dollar signs. As much as I hate the idea of a fragmented market for apps I also think it's neat that such options can exist versus it being Apple's way or the highway.

Microsoft has their Windows Phone 7 debut on Monday (Ocotober 11, 2010) and it was a painful thing for me to move away from Windows Mobile last November. I'm a Microsoft fan. I think Microsoft has made a lot of good stuff and a lot of bad stuff. I don't think they are perfect. I'm also a Microsoft fan that thinks they need leadership from someone other than Steve Ballmer. Microsoft, I hope you prove me wrong on Monday... but nobody is going to beat Android unless they open things up. Apple isn't going to. I think it would be a mistake for them to do so as that's not their business model and never has been. They sell slick, overpriced merchandise (although overpriced is relative). They have their following and their following can watch Android grow. Android wins!

Think I'm brilliant? Think I'm nuts? I've love to see your comments on this...


  1. Great Post I agree!

  2. You are spot on, IMHO... I am a developer of interactive digital products for the Military and Defense industry. They have latched onto Android and so have I. Apple will maintain a strong following. Hell I have a Mac Mini, iPod Touch and an iPad and also develop games that are on the App Store but the real money and future for my company and for many others is Android.