Daniel Eran Dilger
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Three Disruptions in Technology, and How to Benefit

Daniel Eran Dilger

Every once and a while, a new technology platform surfaces that disrupts the status quo, crushing existing business models and reconfiguring how the world works, what new expectations consumers now have, and how investment decisions will be made in the future. Frequently, nobody sees it coming, and those who think they can are often wrong. There are actually three types of disruption, and being able to identify them can set you apart from your competitors.
In two weeks, I’ll be discussing the subject of disruption in my presentation at Øredev, titled “Surviving Software Platform Disruption.” Here’s a look at the issues I’ll be addressing; I invite your comments on them. The synopsis of the presentation:

In competitive markets, new technologies that disrupt the status quo can serve as either frightening challenges or incredible opportunities. How developers manage their legacy dependancies and whether they can remain current is deeply impacted by their ability to correctly identify key technology trends and cut through the vapor of marketing hype. Here’s a look at disrupting factors on the horizon and how their potential can be harnessed.”

 Wp-Content Uploads 2008 10 Danielerandilger

Meet me at Øredev in Malmö, Sweden

This segment looks at three kinds of disruption that occur in technology. The first is:

1: Conventional Disruption.

In hindsight, conventional disruptions are always obvious. Examples include the personal computer of the late 70s; the graphical desktop debuted by the original Macintosh; the rise of Windows as a common platform for PC makers; the emergence of the commercial web; and today, the emergence of the smartphone as a new platform of ubiquitous handheld computing.

We take all of these milestones along the road of computing to be inevitable discoveries because once time passes, the past seems like the only way things could have possibly occurred. At the time however, the dominant leaders of the day often failed to recognize the significance of all of these events, and in many cases, so did the mainstream tech media.

• IBM didn’t recognize the home computer market as a possible threat to its minicomputer business machine market for nearly half a decade. Once it did by 1981, it only delivered a placeholder product that was really designed to direct attention upward to the company’s existing business machine products.

• When Apple released the Macintosh, IBM, PC cloners, and even the broad PC media failed to grasp its significance. Those who did see the beginning of what all computing systems would one day emulate were often written off as the delusional fans of a toy system.

• When Windows began to gain in market share in 1990, Mac users scoffed at its rough edges and shoddy appearance while commercial UNIX vendors didn’t see any market for a crashing, pathetic clone of the Mac running on inferior hardware. Microsoft did however get the backing of the same media sources that had called Apple’s system from nearly a decade prior a toy, and leveraged its new platform into a massive new force that would assault both Apple and Unix.

• Microsoft completely failed to anticipate the significance of the new commercial web as an open platform that would rival proprietary API development. Only after Netscape and Sun clearly outlined why the web would be the end of Windows did Bill Gates suddenly recognize the urgency of the situation and hastily retarget the web as a critical platform to dismantle and replace with freeze dried Windows-flavored crystals that smelled like a Java-enabled web without the open interoperability.

• Finally, while everyone sees the smartphone industry as large and growing, the media has clung to the established notion that this market will always be ruled by Nokia and perhaps Microsoft as a pantheon of hundreds of phone models ranging from Flash Lite ‘feature phones’ and touch-insensitive Windows Mobile Smartphone units to expensive fold-out gadgets loaded with a Swiss Army knife assortment of bells and whistles. At some point, they will discover that’s not where the current disruption is streaming capital towards, nor will it be.

1990-1995: The Rise of Windows NT & Fall of OS/2
Why OS X is on the iPhone, but not the PC

2: Dropped Ball Disruption.

While conventional disruption gets discussed a lot, there’s a second aspect of technology disruption. It comes, not from the emergence of a disruptive new product or concept, but from the Earth shattering destruction of the status quo caused by a face-planting failure of an existing leader, resulting in fertile ground for innovative competitors to rush in, redraw the playing field and rewrite the rules of the game.

This happened to Apple in the mid to late 80s. It handed away its technology lead to Microsoft (quite literally, when CEO John Sculley volunteered a free license to Mac technology to Gates in exchange for two years of exclusivity of Excel on the Macintosh), and then subsequently ignored the high volume consumer and small business markets while suing Microsoft and its other PC competitors for copyright infringement of the Mac’s unique concepts.

That resulted in Apple’s own sales imploding while it also polished the petri dish for culturing graphical PC operating systems clean for Microsoft, which itself was vaccinated from Apple’s litigation by the poorly worded licensing agreement Sculley had delivered.

Apple’s decade-long head start in selling graphical systems shattered and scattered on the ground while Microsoft’s third-rate product not only took over Apple’s core business, but expanded upward into the UNIX market and downward into cheap PC market inhabited by Commodore and Atari.

The disruption of Windows 95 wasn’t created by Microsoft, but instead enabled by the dropped ball disruption of Apple. Similar balls were dropped by IBM with its failed PS/2 hardware and OS/2 software partnership with Microsoft, Sun in disastrously licensing Java to Microsoft; and today, with Microsoft’s inept introduction of Windows Vista.

Who could have predicted that Microsoft would fail so thoroughly in deploying Vista that two years after its launch the installed base would be only about twice as big as Mac OS X in the enterprise? Apple’s incredible success in selling its systems between 2005-2008 is as much Microsoft’s fault as Microsoft’s success in selling Windows PCs from 1995-1998 was Apple’s fault. The ball is simply now being dropped on the other foot.

Office Wars 3 – How Microsoft Got Its Office Monopoly
Jean-Louis Gassée Returns from Obscurity… to Talk About MobileMe
Report: Mac adoption expanding in the enterprise

3: Fantasy Disruption.

There’s also a third type of disruption: the highly anticipated disruptor that never materializes. In the early 90s, the Newton PDA and series of Pen Computing initiatives were widely hailed as systems that would rejigger the computing world. The stylus would replace the bulky keyboard and computing would go mobile. Gates issues a series of predictions about how rapidly this would happen, but it never really did. Outside of a few limited applications, the concept of pen computing died completely.

Sometimes a disruption can appear to occur and then fizzle into obscurity. Sun’s Java of the mid 90s promised to turn software into a molten quicksilver of portability that could trickle from the desktop to web applets to handheld devices and even non-computing devices like TVs, stereo systems, and home automation devices. Despite inflating a massive buzzword balloon that left stretch marks upon the coding community and influenced server side development, Java all but failed to deliver its “write once, run anywhere” promise of widespread disruption.

The PDA similarly erupted in a brilliant flash of light and heat before trailing off without even casting a meaningful footprint in the boulevard of technology. After Apple’s Newton fizzled, Palm exploded within 3Com and then spun off in an IPO that valued Palm’s potential as far greater than the rest of 3Com’s actual business that it left behind. Palm’s 2000 IPO assigned the new company twice the market value of Apple, despite having a tenth the revenues and an even smaller fraction of Apple’s profits at the time.

After the expectation of the disrupting effect PDAs would have propelled Palm up into dizzying heights in the atmosphere, the company promptly began falling back to earth after it became clear that there was a very limited market for PDA gadgets. Microsoft confidently moved into Palm’s turf, only to discover what the market already had stumbled onto: there was no future for PDAs.

Palm struggled to attach the PDA to the mobile phone, which kept the company on life support. However, neither Palm nor Microsoft have successfully been able to create any significant disruption with the PDA, or even to parlay their investment into a viable bid to disrupt the smartphone world.

Newton Lessons for Apple’s New Platform
The Egregious Incompetence of Palm
Origins: Why the iPhone is ARM, and isn’t Symbian

What the Three Disruptions Mean for the Future.

Pundits are quick to identify every new product or concept as the next big disruptor, but as history teaches us, real disruption is rare. Well funded efforts to shake things up may excite the media or even consume the public’s attention for several years, but these fantasy disruptions are only bankruptions: Taligent, Itanium, HD-DVD, and Blu-ray are all examples of massive efforts to create disruption that simply flopped.

The only two disrupting events that developers can really take advantage of are the truly new disrupting products and technologies that shake things up by introducing new efficiencies valuable enough rewrite the rules of how things will work in the future.

This can occur due to collective action by a series of entrepreneurial pioneers, as was the case with early personal computing; or due primarily to the significant investment of one company, such as was the case with the Apple Macintosh; or due to open, collaborative contributions, as was the case with the web; or due to a demand originating with consumers, as is typified by the smartphone today.

While all of these events trigger a rapid evolution of change that disrupts the landscape, it is dropped ball disruption that most often creates the greatest and most revolutionary ripples in the fabric of technology. That’s because monopolistic or at least dominant control over a technology has a damming effect that holds back the potential for change until a dropped ball event unleashes it into a flood of new disruption.

The Secrets of Pink, Taligent and Copland
Road to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: 64-Bits
Lessons from the Death of HD-DVD
Why Low Def is the New HD

Disruption Requires Key People, Position, and Timing.

Creating disruption from scratch requires a similar alignment of circumstances. Shaking things up demands talented people working together in an effectively managed, well positioned organization with the capacity to affect change, and acting at a time when change is possible.

• Apple was well staffed, organized, and positioned at a critical juncture to ride the initial wave of personal computing. However, after developing the Macintosh, Apple’s organization began to falter. Once it recognized the direction it needed to take, the time window had passed for competing against generic PCs. Microsoft had additionally poached much of its talent.

• At NeXT, Steve Jobs had collected the talent, but had problems with both effective sales positioning and with timing. The company was first squeezed into a difficult niche by its non-compete agreement with Apple, then similarly missed the window of opportunity for shipping a new operating system before the computing landscape was monopolized by Microsoft.

• The distributed development of the web involved lots of talent, effectively networked that talent using the IETF model, and delivered an alternative to proprietary online services at the perfect time.

• The similarly distributed development effort of Linux on the desktop has not shared the same success, because its talent has not been effectively managed to produce a product consumers can use. While the timing for Linux to deliver an effective competitor to Windows has been generously extended for a decade now, the unfocused community has failed to deliver the expected disruption.

Apple’s Open Source Assault
Apple in the Web Browser Wars: Netscape vs Internet Explorer

Preventing Disruption.

While many people may benefit from disruption, new events are, by definition, disruptive. For the leader, disruption is often viewed as a threat to be restrained.

In the 80s, Apple worked to contain the Macintosh to prevent unauthorized duplication as well as rejecting a possibly cannibalizing effort to expand into the high volume, low end market or even potentially lucrative licensing or franchising efforts. This resulted in a pent up demand that helped push the ball out of Apple’s hands, breaking the market wide open for Microsoft’s Windows.

Microsoft has worked diligently ever since to prevent disruption from impacting the dominance and permanence of its Windows API, battling threats from the web, from Java, and from alternative operating systems such as Linux. It now faces a new threat from Apple, this time in the highly profitable but broad consumer market that Apple not effectively harnessed previously.

Can Apple Take Microsoft in the Battle for the Desktop?
Microsoft’s Zune, Vista, and Windows Mobile 7 Strategy vs the iPhone

Disruption is Not Inevitable.

Disruptions don’t happen because they are inevitable however. They happen because of the choices made by key people in key positions at key moments. The same factors can also hold back disruption. Apple of the late 80s lacked the talent needed to prevent the disruption of its Macintosh platform.

Rather than conservatively trying to hold back the reins to control costs, the old Apple, hindsight tells us, should have allowed Steve Jobs to drive the Mac platform aggressively into the future, delivering the fresh new product he had to leave Apple to create. Had NeXT developed within a savvier Apple, the company wouldn’t have suffered dropped ball disruption, but would rather have disrupted the landscape itself in a progressive series of advancements that Microsoft never could have competed against.

Instead, by 1990 Apple had created a hungry demand for its technology but only sold its products to a high end market. That prompted DOS PC makers led by Zenith to sign up to begin installing Microsoft Windows 3.0 on their systems for the first time, so they could offer something that appeared similar to the Macintosh, which at the time was killing them, particularly in education markets.

Had Apple satiated that demand with consumer friendly products, there would have been no market for dumpy PCs running the laughingstock that Windows 3.x was. Apple had made so little actual progress in Mac development in the second half of the 80s that the only way it could effectively offer low end machines, which it only began offering in 1990 as a reaction to the new Windows PC, was to offer repackaged versions of its old technology. The 1990 Mac LC was actually the 1987 Mac II in a new box. The Mac Classic of the same year was a rewarmed version of the ancient 1986 Mac Plus.

Had Apple instead invested in new technology in the second half of the 80s rather than coasting along collecting money for its past accomplishments, it could have offered a range of fresh technology products that would simply have left no room for Microsoft’s shoddy competition.

Steve Jobs and 20 Years of Apple Servers
Beyond Luxo Jr.

What If… Has Worked.

That’s exactly what Jobs has been doing at Apple ever since. The company has invested in technology and deployed a series of desirable products that simply can’t be competed against. Pundits insisted that Microsoft would commodify the iPod, but that never happened. The reason: Apple kept the iPod a moving target that snowballed interest and sales until no upstart, not even the product entries of heavyweights like Sony and Microsoft, could make a dent.

The iPhone is the latest example. Commentators first shrugged it off as a potentially disrupting force, then announced that the next few products in line from rivals would simply disrupt the iPhone in turn: “iPhone killers.” But that hasn’t happened. Apple has resisted disruption of the iPhone fabric by keeping it a moving target and weaving it into the past success of the iPod and iTunes.

Apple’s investment in its own operating system software not only enabled the company to deliver a very unique and difficult to clone product in the iPhone, but also set the company up to be able to take full advantage of Vista’s face planting, dropped ball disruption. If the Apple of 2006 had been trying to resell the Mac OS of 1996, the same way the Apple of 1996 was attempting to sell the Mac OS of 1986, the company would not have been well positioned to sell PC uses disgruntled by Vista a new Mac.

Apple has also invested in hiring key talent, and has banked its gradual success to end up with a $24 billion kitty right as global markets are falling into a credit-tight recession. Apple now has the perfectly timed opportunity to cherry pick talent from other companies that are struggling, just as Microsoft could do in the 90s.

How Apple Is Changing the PC Software World… Back
Windows 95 and Vista: Why 2007 Won’t Be Like 1995

Understanding Disruption Lets You Benefit From It.

Rather than assuming, rather simply, that everything in the past will work out for the same companies in the same way as it previously has, it’s important to recognize that disruption comes from talented people, well positioned, at the right time to control disrupting factors.

The factors that enabled Microsoft’s success in the 90s have changed. Its people are complacent and comatose from corporate asphyxiation, its position is slipping, and its timing is simply unfortunate. It failed to develop its mobile environment to take advantage of the smartphone boom, causing it to slip behind RIM and Apple domestically and additionally behind Nokia’s Symbian on a worldwide scale, despite having had an early advantage.

Microsoft’s desktop operating system, despite maintaining monopoly control over the PC for nearly two decades, has now stumbled so badly that plan B(7), still a year or two away, can’t possibly make up for the fact that it now faces a credible threat from Apple in the highly visible consumer market as well as erosion from Linux in servers and in low end but higher volume systems.

Conversely, Apple’s problems of the 90s are also addressed. It is gaining, not draining, its talent pool; it is effectively aimed at creating desirable, progressive products; and its timed to climb in the smartphone market as well as in the desktop and laptop market where the flop of Vista has recharted demand in Apple’s direction.

Pundits don’t seem to have figured any of this out. That elasticity between reality and perception offers developers a window of opportunity to invest in Apple’s platform before everyone else realizes that’s where they should be investing.

Myth 8: iPhone will lose out to Steve Ballmer’s Windows Mobile 7
Myth 10: RIM’s BlackBerry Will Contain iPhone Expansion

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1 Jengis { 11.03.08 at 8:05 am }

I love reading these articles.

2 VeoSotano { 11.03.08 at 10:36 am }

And I would add that this is indeed one of the best articles ever on RDM, in my opinion. Well done, Dan!

3 qzg { 11.03.08 at 12:21 pm }

Fantastic article. Well researched. Accurate opinions expressed gracefully. I just can’t figure out how I can see so eye-to-eye with you on tech issues and be so totally different in social/political issues.

4 Berend Schotanus { 11.03.08 at 12:39 pm }


Thanks for sharing this interesting article. I hope your audience in Malmö will love it as much as I do. Still, you asked for comments, you’ll get some.

My own interest, as a railway expert, in reading about computer innovations is to understand the apparent lack of innovation in my own industry. An intriguing discovery was to see the similarities between 19th Century England and 21st Century Silicon Valley, being both extremely entrepreneurial and innovative regions. And in both cases the disrupting business cycle you describe is the empowering force behind innovation. So I think the principle you describe can go much further back than the invention of the PC, it can go back at least until James Watt’s steam engine, and the same principle goes on, over and over again. Which is absolutely incredible because after each innovation step it would have been perfectly sound to believe the world is finished and no further innovation is needed.

What you call “Conventional Disruption” might actually be, according to the exemples you give “Unexpected Disruption”. That is the essence of what you are trying to tell: even when, with hindsight, the innovation was quite obvious, contemporary market leaders didn’t expect it.
The next step, when you start to accept the phenomena of disruption, it is still very difficult to get it right and not drop the ball or dream away in fantasies. My favorite “Fantasy Disruptions” are the Perpetuum Mobile and the monorail.

There might be something like a standard model for innovation, which starts with an environment where newcomers get a chance to compete. The typical innovator is a young outsider with enough knowledge to know what’s going on and what chances are there bu also with enough distance of the establishment to not be blinded by previous traditions. The innovator takes his chance to overthrow the establishment, grows and becomes establishment himself, just to get overthrown by the next young innovator after so many years.

This standard model would be good enough for a fascinating lecture. But, being an Apple expert, your problem is Steve Jobs doesn’t fit in the standard model.
Typically Apple would have overthrown market leader IBM by 1977 with the Apple II, where Apple could have dominated the 1980’s with a command line interface computer. The CLI-PC was at that moment a huge innovation and it was quite a task for the world to absorb that innovation.
You could say it was a blessing Steve Jobs could see the next innovation, the GUI. But you could say as well it was to his misfortune. Instead of taking the market share of what would later become the IBM-PC he was distracted by something you could call a “Fantasy Disruption” and he dropped the ball. In 1984 the GUI could be seen as a Fantasy Disruption, not because it was not viable but because it was too early both in market adaption and in processing power.
Then, after dropping the ball so early, he had plenty of time to think about revenge. You could say he had it right with object oriented OS, with MP3 players, with user friendly smartphones. My impression is that, on top of that, he got some basic understanding of how innovative disruption works. He is not trying to go too fast anymore but he isn’t sticking to a reached position either. So the essential innovation of Steve Jobs is innovation itself.

5 KA { 11.03.08 at 12:44 pm }

Nice one! However, I’m thinking Vista’s ball dropping is more breaking up the ice than causing a big splash. That’s up to a second drop.

6 Per Grenerfors { 11.03.08 at 12:53 pm }

This article is so good I felt like lighting a cigarette after reading it. This is RDM Hall of Fame material. It sums up at least two years of RDM articles without ever feeling like a tedious repetition.

I’m sure this will be a brilliant presentation .I would love to go to Øredev but I’m broke and school work is in the way too.

I hope you enjoy your stay in Malmö, even though it’s the worst time of year to come here.

7 MarkyMark { 11.03.08 at 1:05 pm }

To the “conventional disruptors” I would add the advent of the mouse itself, LaserJet printers, and networked DOS PCs; who knew at the time that networking a bunch of slow, junky PCs together would eventually kill the thriving mini-computer market?

8 luisd { 11.03.08 at 1:45 pm }

@Berend Schotanus, you just described the scientific revolutions of Thomas Kuhn.

It is fascinating to see how those ideas can so easily be extrapolated to much more applied domains, like engineering and computing, and not only to abstract scientific thought.

9 harrywolf { 11.03.08 at 2:15 pm }

I am not sure if Marketing isnt the leader and arbiter of all the things we do, with crappy technologies being Darwinised only after billions of dollars of marketing cash, or as I see it, ‘Public Hypnosis Money’ is spent.

We seem to arrive at the good products by default, and only after wasting time and money on rubbish.
Marketing is the great disrupting force.

Perhaps thats the nature of human learning – we dont listen to Wise men, we have to forge our own path, only to end back where we started.
Thats not a bad thing – where would we be without the excitement of beating the evil Windows empire?
In a way, if its not something that your life depends on, the computer wars are like a good novel.

I remember when Microsoft brought out Microsoft Works on DOS – it was exactly what I needed to run a small business in 1989 or so.
Once I had figured it out, DOS seemed fine. I had come from the COBOL world, so DOS was simple and cool.
When Windows appeared, I was disgusted, and wanted the simplicity of numbers and lines on the screen, with solid, professional-looking dull print-out – reminder letters, databases of customers. Very dry.

(Up here in Vancouver, I had never come across an Apple machine, except for one time when a friend came up from LA with a portable in 1987 or so. I only remember the Trash Can and thinking how clever that was.)

The ‘Business World’ demanded this kind of tough dry approach, and still frowns on frivolity. DOS was perfect for men (mostly men) who were ONLY interested in making money, usually at the expense of their personal lives and health.

Its obvious (but maybe only to me!) that the Microsoft crowd and their ugly haircuts, male tough-guy values, 1950’s business suits, semi-military behaviour, the shackling of women to the kitchen sink, and other ‘Business Guy’ values are what stopped Apple from doing well, and that Sculley and Jean L-G wanted to take Apple down that road in some fashion.

Bottom line: The trash can on the Apple screen put off ‘business guys’ because it was whimsical and intuitive, representing everything they hated and feared.

I loved the Trash Can, eventually recalled it, subconsciously went searching for it, and never used Win or DOS again.

You are a Windows guy or you are an Apple person – it seems to come down to that, on a subliminal level.

10 enzos { 11.03.08 at 3:42 pm }

@dan… “Hussein”: that’s nailing your colors to the mast; Onya mate!

@luisd & Berend… good responses to a great article. I might add – as a researcher in the physical sciences -, re. the railway analogy, that nearly the whole basic science of Thermodynamics as we know it today developed from attempts in England and France to analyze and improve the efficiency of the steam engine… Science inspired and driven by commercial technology as per the thesis of this article.

11 ryan_marsh { 11.03.08 at 3:54 pm }

“While the timing for Linux to deliver an effective competitor to Windows has been generously extended for a decade now, the unfocused community has failed to deliver the expected disruption.”

Ouch, sad but true.

12 benlewis { 11.03.08 at 7:02 pm }

I would add the combo of the Apple LaserWriter with PostScript and PageMaker as a platform that significantly disrupted the status quo.

13 John E { 11.03.08 at 9:14 pm }

well, disruption comes in all sizes – small, medium, large, and mega. it helps our understanding not to jumble them all up conceptually or rhetorically.

the development of an inexpensive (relatively) PC/GUI in the 80’s, the cell phone, and the Internet in 90’s were all three Mega. each changed the world, permanently. Windows 95 on the other hand was Small in such a scale, mainly providing a practically needed global standard for about a decade, which now no longer really matters. it was merely a market disruption, not a technological or social one.

then there are the “evolutions.” the “digital revolution” of digitizing everything has slowly spread to just about everything imaginable by now, but starting – when? the 1960’s? it was Uber-Mega. and the “unifying” evolution of melding all those disruptions of the PC, the internet, and phone – plus an older Mega-disruption, television – plus your smart house, car, and anything else into a seamless personal network for each of us individually is still very much in process and not yet finished.

and that’s what the current market is dealing with right now. the iPhone was another Small disruption, a breakthrough in one particular aspect of this. MS is still looking to create an “everything” package – Azure, Windows Live, etc. etc. – which, if they pulled it truly off, would be quite a feat and disruptive. Google seems to have a version of its own in mind. and don’t underestimate AT&T’s U-Verse (an apt name indeed), which RDM overlooks pretty much.

And Apple? whatever AppleTV and MobileMe need to be to complete such an “everything” package, they ain’t there yet. we’ll see in 2009 ….

14 Tardis { 11.04.08 at 11:33 am }

Berend Schotanus drew some interesting parallels with the early days of the railway industry, but then seemed to go off the rails …………

If I have understood the comments, Apple was set to dominate the command-line computing industry but instead “dropped the ball” by going after graphical interface ………..

As a designer, the words “some day every computer will work this way” echo in my ears. As creative professionals, we are taught that we have a “duty to innovate”.

In my own field, having some “some day everything will work this way …. ” epiphany makes me impatient with having to continue to work with the old people and the old ways, but I know that often I have to put up with them to make the new ideas succeed. So I can sympathise with Steve Jobs and his ability to identify them and set Apple apart from its competitors.

Just add in one more phrase: “I felt like such a dope” – Jobs explaining the one year delay in developing the iPod, once it became obvious that PC’s and iMacs were being used for music. A failure in the “duty to innovate” that he had missed which suddenly became so clear, to Steve and to Apple, but that no-one else noticed at the time and which allowed Apple to create its magic iPod halo …………..

15 beanie { 11.04.08 at 3:16 pm }

Oredev’s gold sponsors are Oracle and Microsoft. The focused programming languages topics are Java and .NET. So exactly how does Macs and iPhones disrupt Java and .NET development?

Vista is not being hugely adopted by enterprises is not a problem to developers. Businesses are still using Windows XP and Windows Server 2008 and Linux. Developers are still developing with Java and .NET.

In the consumer space, netbooks loaded with WindowsXP and Linux are selling well. ASUS said about 70% are Windows. Estimated 2009 netbook market is about 20 million units. So unless Apple enters the low profit netbook market, netbook sales have matched or overtaken Mac sales.

In the PC market, about 300 million are sold every year. Macs account for about 10-20 million. So exactly how is Mac OS X a disruption?

In the mobile space, iPhone does look like a new opportunity for developers. But has it disrupted development for Symbian, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Palm or Android? I would say no. In fact, iPhone probably has probably brought more interest to all the platforms.

Android is a more compelling developer platform than the iPhone. Android uses the Java language and there are a lot of Java programmers. Google’s two founders have a programming background just like Bill Gates. All three of them understand developers and technologies. Steve Jobs of Apple has a business background and seems to not really understand developers. The Mac developer community needs improving. Searching the web, the Linux developer community seems to be larger than the Mac development community.

[Ha, dear Beanie@Juno(!) Surely even you can see the irony in blowing off Apple by citing market share numbers while grandstanding for Android, a platform that hasn’t even yet materialized in terms of real sales, no? Also, I’m not sure you have grasped the meaning of “disruption.” It does not mean “acquiring a monopoly.”]

16 KevinS { 11.04.08 at 3:18 pm }

Reading this and remembering your recent article “How Apple Is Changing the PC Software World… Back” – RDM, Sep 11, 2008, I recalled a headline about Widows Azure, Microsoft’s “New Free OS” (http://www.dailytech.com/Microsoft+Launches+Windows+Azure+New+Free+OS/article13301.htm).

You’ve written much about the moves, techniques and technologies Microsoft has tried to maintain or enlarge their monopoly hold on customers in the marketplace. Here they go again with a bait-and-switch ploy to lock customers into their products – this time in the “Cloud Computing” paradigm. Of course they will offer the OS for free since you’ll have to pay a subscription or fee to get access, information and applications via Microsoft servers. Why they will even keep YOUR data for you on THEIR servers. How generous!

Pundits think this is the next disruptive technology leading to cheaper and better computing. Of course, magnificent and GENEROUS Microsoft is going to be offering a gateway to their services via a “FREE” operating system. Want to take bets on whose services are preferred/allowed/compatible within the Azure OS?

The cloud may offer a lower cost of entry to customers by using simple, basic, inexpensive client terminals but only if your usage is low or the cost model is reasonable. Apple is already moving that direction with the iPhone/iPod Touch and MoblieMe apps. Google is working on it as well with the Android and Google apps. As long as the technology uses standards-based interfaces and the business model supports competitive markets with fee for service as well as advertising supported services, we have hope it will be reasonably priced.

I don’t believe Microsoft will be able to keep their monopoly with customers in the cloud computing architecture. At least I hope they don’t.

17 luisd { 11.04.08 at 4:15 pm }


You are doing this out of irony, right? Just to stress this point clear:

“At the time however, the dominant leaders of the day often failed to recognize the significance of all of these events, and in many cases, so did the mainstream tech media”

18 futumike { 11.06.08 at 6:29 am }

Daniel, looking forward to hear your talk on this subject at Oredev. Just booked the trip.

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