Thursday, March 21, 2013

Now thanks to B-Y-O-D, losing the enterprise market can be as easy as 1-2-3.

Shifts happen. Comfort zone, meet my friend Obsolescence.

Sure, you set the standard and now you're sitting pretty. But before you know it, some other company will come along and excel in the same product category. My word, how things can change all of a sudden.

A few weeks back I wrote of the possibility of Microsoft getting "wanged" during the next decade, that is, being leapfrogged by a greater trend that it has no direct answer to.

In that blog post, I pointed to Google's Chrome OS & its low-cost Chromebook, cloud computing, and the working behavior of teens & tweens who don't know of the days of being disconnected. I must say that I find the opinions of many analysts, especially those in their 40s and 50s, rather risible, and a clear reflection of their lack of vision. One analyst I saw interviewed called the Chromebook a "silly" concept because the user "had to always have [an internet] connection or it wouldn't work." I suppose the same argument was made about electricity once upon a time, but now we are practically always connected to the electric cloud. Yes, we are dependent on that. Next issue please.

For your consideration, please see the highly entertaining and very detailed "Smartphone Bloodbath" post by Tomi Ahonen of Communities Dominate blog, in which Mr. Ahonen writes of this most amazing shift occurring under our noses:
Note, this year Android will replace Windows globally as the OS powering most computers in use (when smartphones and tablets are included in the calculation). That will be a nasty wake-up moment for Microsoft investors and owners and partners. That the 'impregnable' Windows PC desktop space ecosystem has been conquerred, by Google's Android? No wonder Google already released a laptop/netbook running Android. Google intends to power the vast majority of all computing platforms from our desktops and tablets to our eyeglasses, televisions, clothing, cars etc. Yes, Google and Android have won the IT platform war of the century, beating Windows like a rented mule, just like I wrote last year.

Let's hear that again: Google is in the process of surpassing Microsoft in the platform battle. Across Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and even the U.S., Google-developed computing platforms either already have or are about to take the lead. If it doesn't happen this year, it will next year: there will be a new global leader and nobody is really noticing. Insidious!

The stats could be debated and we could wonder what the definition of a computing platform is. But as the smartphone experience takes center stage, and the desktop experience is being reverse engineered to be more like the mobile experience, it's time for Microsoft to do some leapfrogging of its own. (Where the heck is that advanced gesture-based "KinectPhone" from Microsoft I thought we would see by now?)

At first thought, the notion that Microsoft might lose consumer interest doesn't seem odd, but losing the enterprise market seems impossible. After all, Microsoft makes great tools for conservative IT departments everywhere, whose goal is not to experiment with the new but to provide 99+% secure up-time for the company staff. Unfortunately for Microsoft, those were the same arguments I heard about BlackBerry not too long ago: security, IT maintenance, provisioning, robustness...

But then came along BYOD. Yes, the power of the crowd forced their own devices into the workplace. Personal iPhones replaced BlackBerrys, personal tablets replaced some laptop usage. As Apple, Samsung and other vendors make their gadgets more and more enterprise-friendly, I do see the bring-your-own-device trend pushing the envelope with personal laptops replacing IT-issued machines and personal cloud storage replacing company server space. (I have heard terrible rumors of workers using Dropbox to share company files!)

I might be aging myself here, but I remember learning Lotus 1-2-3 back in the '80s. That spreadsheet was such a killer app in its day, that anyone graduating from business school with strong knowledge of "Lotus" was very likely to get a good job based on that skill alone. 1-2-3 wasn't just the market leader in spreadsheets, it was the market. What could go wrong?

And here we are again. A shift is taking place that you can tell your grandchildren about. Mobile is merging with desktop, big numbers will dominate over the small, and the crowd will do as it pleases. Go calculate the implications if you like.

This killer application for advanced calculation needed salvation,
but not even the likes of an IBM could save it from cremation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I must say that I find the opinions of many analysts, especially those in their 40s and 50s, rather risible"

Totally agree. I'm amazed that so many people who make their living from opining on these matters don't seem to get Chrome OS at all, even to the point of seemingly not being aware that it does actually work offline.