These days it seems as if all we hear about is how the desktop PC market is in decline, that tablets are outselling laptops and that the companies that took part in the last wave, such as Intel and Microsoft, seem to have no response and only Apple, Google, Samsung and others can innovate. Why do we get so excited about the obvious? To see this transition takes little insight. There is a very simple explanation of what is happening and why.
In the previous generation of computing we had one type of device that was a do-it-all device. We could add software to add capabilities and could also add software to change the look and feel of it, but most of the time that did not take away any of the available functionality of the underlying platform or the software installed on it.
Today we have devices geared for two types of people with completely different objectives. The new devices are consumption devices. They are optimized for reading books or documents, listening to music and watching videos. That is a much simpler function without the need for the flexibility that was provided by the old platforms. Much of the complexity of the platform can be hidden and allows the design of the UI to be a selling feature. The previous style of devices will become optimized for content creation – those who write the documents or books, make music or videos or create the applications that extend the consumption platforms. There will be far less of these needed because the very nature of a business depends on having more consumers than creators – otherwise it would never be possible to make money.
What is perhaps more difficult to understand is why Microsoft decided to try and make the operating system (Windows 8) for content creators look like the UI for content consumers rather than to optimize the desktop for creation. I can see why there would need to be very tight compatibility between them and they may indeed be based on the same core capabilities, but the functions that need to be performed are very different. Ironically, I think that Apple has always had an eye towards content creators more than Microsoft, and this could be part of the reason for Apple’s resurgence in those markets.
Companies like Dell clearly see the writing on the wall and this is the main reason why they are going private – to get out of the glare of the public and the need to consistently perform so that they can transform themselves into a company geared towards creators rather than consumers. Microsoft has to decide which it wants to be because at the moment it appears to be dabbling in both but not committed to either.
Am I missing anything?Brian Bailey
– keeping you entertained
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