I was humbled-and just a bit frightened--to see the Apple and Intel cruise ships pass so closely as they sailed down San Francisco's Howard St. this week.
I did not get a feeling at IDF that Intel is in the vanguard of Android,
and Microsoft is certainly not leading the way in mobile software.
Intel has its work cut out for itself navigating it’s way to a strong
The good news is, it is still at the center of
the PC and what people loosely call cloud computing. Jim Pappas, one of
the guys who drove PCI and USB, enthusiastically
told me about how flash memory will change the programming model of
the compute infrastructure, a model Intel aims to author—if all goes
well with the post-NAND generation.
Meanwhile, Apple’s stock is
rising on little more than the design of what amounts to a single,
me-too phone. The iPhone 5 catches up with what its rivals have been
delivering for a year—LTE, bigger displays, better media, smaller
components like docking connectors.
It’s a great business model:
Design one decent, but not bleeding-edge smartphone, tablet and notebook
a year. Give consumers something that’s arguably cool and useful, and
avoid the risks of bleeding edge technology.
Apple too could run
aground, as Van Baker of Gartner pointed out to me in a chat at IDF. If
it misses just once on one of its big annual product cycles, it could
be hosed—losing a year of revenue, profits and panache as the company
that sets mobile fashions. The risks are pretty big given the
complexities in the software stack, the semiconductor and systems design
chains and just plain human enterprise at this scale. Tim Cook, no
doubt, buys Maalox by the case.
At the end of the day, it was
humbling—and just a bit frightening--to see these giant cruise ships
pass so closely as they sailed down San Francisco’s Howard Street.
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